What is the ‘best interest of the child’ standard?

On Behalf of | Dec 29, 2021 | Child Custody

Parents going through a divorce want to ease the impact the dissolution has on their children. Part of this is ensuring child custody decisions are made that meet the child’s physical and emotional needs. Children generally need the care of both parents. This can play a role in how custody will be allocated.

What is joint custody versus sole custody?

In Oregon, joint custody means that both of a child’s parents have the authority to make decisions on key issues in a child’s life. Joint custody is different than parenting time. Parenting time refers to where a child lives on a day-to-day basis. Parents can share joint custody without necessarily having equal parenting time. Parents can even share joint custody when one parent has the child in their care full-time. In Oregon, both parents must agree to joint custody before a judge can award it. If only one parent has decision-making authority over the child, this is referred to as sole custody.

What factors will the court consider when making custody decisions?

The standard the court will use when making any child custody decisions is the best interest of the child. There are a variety of factors that the court will consider when determining what is in the child’s best interests.

The court will consider the emotional ties between the child and each parent, siblings and other close family members. Each parent’s attitude towards the child and interest in the child will be considered. Whether it is desirable to continue an already-existing relationship will be considered. Whether spousal abuse is an issue will be considered. Finally, each parent’s capacity and willingness to facilitate and encourage the child to have a relationship with the other parent will be considered.

The parent’s gender alone will not be a deciding factor when it comes to joint custody. In addition, a parent’s conduct, income and lifestyle will only be considered if they will harm the child either emotionally or physically.

Staying amicable can ease the transition

Parents who remain amicable during their divorce and afterwards can help their child process the changes the dissolution brings to their life. Whether joint custody or sole custody is awarded will be determined by the child’s best interests. This ensures the child’s needs are met in a way that is beneficial to them.