How a child’s best interests are determined in custody cases

The matter of child custody is one that must be decided when parents divorce. However, this matter could also arise between two parents who are unmarried. In British Columbia, the parents and the court are required to consider the child’s best interests under the Family Law Act to ensure the emotional, physical and psychological well-being, safety and security of the child.

All of the child’s circumstances and needs are factors that constitute the best interests of the child. These factors include the child’s health, history of care and need for stability based on age and mental development. The strength and nature of the child’s relationship with each parent and the capacity of each parent to exercise parental responsibilities are also factors.

In addition to these common factors, a court issuing a child custody order must take into consideration any history of family violence. Whether the violence was directed toward the child, how recently it occurred, and the seriousness and nature of the act are all considerations. If the violence was directed toward another family member, the court has to consider the ability of the violent actor to care and provide for the child. Any other matters that affect the child’s well-being, safety and security in regard to family violence are factors as well.

Child custody matters do not only arise between two parents of a child. The issue could also come up between a parent and a relative or family friend, or between a combination of relatives and family friends. Those types of custody cases may occur when violence is involved, one parent or both parents suddenly pass away, or one or both parents are unable to care for the child because of other circumstances.

Anyone who is seeking custody of a child might find the services of a family law lawyer helpful. The lawyer could enlist the help of financial advisors and investigators to demonstrate to the court that the potential guardian is the best person to care for the child.

Source: Queen’s Printer, British Columbia, “Division 1 — Best Interests of Child“, December 04, 2014

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