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What exactly does "Best Interests" mean?

When a couple has children and decides to get a divorce, there are a host of complications. Childless couples have to worry about dividing assets and spousal support, but couples with children have to think about issues of support and child custody. Every decision must be made with the best interests of their children in mind. The phrase gets thrown around a lot, but what does it actually mean? Is it a legal term or just a platitude that people love to say?

In fact, "Best Interests" does have a legal significance. However, it isn't the easiest term to define because no two child custody cases are the same. The best interests of a child takes into account a huge variety of factors and tries to determine which choices will positively affect, or cause the least damage to, the child and his or her development physically and emotionally. Typically, both parents want the best they can offer for their children, but they often disagree on what that means.

For this reason, the courts use a loose set of guidelines to help determine this, including:

  • What are the child's wishes? Where does he or she want to live?
  • What sort of physical and mental shape are the parents in?
  • For special needs children, how has each parent cared for the child?
  • Is there a cultural or religious reason the child should live with one parent over the other?
  • What will be the most stable environment for the child?
  • Will the child be closer to friends and family?

Of course, this just scratches the surface and each case will have its own nuances. For this reason, it may be a good idea to talk to an attorney.

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Minutes From Downtown Sacramento

Our office is conveniently located off Highway 50, just three miles from the Sacramento County Family Courthouse and minutes from Downtown Sacramento. For your convenience, we accept all major credit cards.

Victoria S. Linder Law Office
5303 Folsom Boulevard
Sacramento, CA 95819

Phone: 916-905-4805
Fax: 916-498-0127
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