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How are the best interests of the child determined?

Many parents going through the child custody process may wonder how the best interests of the child is utilized when making child custody determinations. The best interests of the child refers to the process courts engage in to arrive at child custody and other decisions that are best for a child during a divorce situation. The standard used to guide and advise the courts helps courts determine what services, actions and orders would best benefit the child and who is best suited to care for the child. A number of factors may be considered when determining what is in the child's best interests.

Considered will be the child's circumstances, the parent or caretaker's circumstances and the parent or caretaker's ability to parent. A guiding consideration, that is always taken into account when making child custody determinations and determining the best interests of the child, is the safety and overall well-being of the child.

In Michigan, factors the court should take under consideration when determining what is in the best interests of the child are stated by statute. As such, in Michigan, the emotional ties the child has with parents, siblings, family members, household members and caretakers is taken into consideration when determining the best interests of the child. In addition, a parent's capacity to provide sufficient food, a safe home, clothing and adequate medical care is also considered. The physical and mental needs of the child, and the physical and mental health of the parents, will also be carefully considered by the court.

A combination of all of these factors, in addition to the wishes of the child, will be considered when a court determines child custody and what is in the best interests of the child. The issue of child custody can sometimes lead to anxiety which is why understanding the standard and factors used to determine child custody, and what is in the best interests of the child, can be useful for parents going through the child custody process.

Source: Child Welfare Information Gateway, "Determining the Best Interests of the Child," Accessed August 21, 2014

Source: Child Welfare Information Gateway, "Determining the Best Interests of the Child," Accessed August 21, 2014

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