best interests of the child

Primary tabs

In child custody proceedings where custody between two parents is contested, courts use this doctrine to make decisions regarding which parent will have custody of the child, the nature of visitation rights, and the nature of child support payments.  A list of factors is often used to make such a determination.  The list varies depending on the particular law of the state in question, but may include the following:  the existence of a prior agreement between the parties, the quality of the home environment and the degree of parental guidance that the custodial parent offers, the financial status of each parent, the individual needs of each child, the mental health of the parents, and the totality of the circumstances.