When divorce or child custody issues arise in the state of Alabama, it is important for individuals to understand the “best interests” of the child standard. Courts in Alabama have great discretion in deciding how to interpret this standard. Clients involved in issues that include the best interests of a child standard often benefit from consulting with a family law attorney who knows how various factors have influenced courts interpretation of the best interest standard. It is critical that parents understand both the importance of the best interest standard and some of the various factors that influence how a court determines the standard.
The phrase “best interests of a child” references the standard that a court in Alabama will apply when making decisions that will affect the lifestyle of any involved children. Because courts take into consideration many factors when determining what is in the best interest of a child, the standard is defined on a case by case basis. It can sometimes be a substantial obstacle for even the most talented attorneys to determine exactly how a court will define the standard in a case and how this standard will then influence a court’s decisions regarding a client’s case.
One of the factors that influences the best interest standard is when abuse or domestic violence are present. A second primary factor that shapes the best interest standard is that courts believe children benefit by maintaining close relationships with both parents, which means that in many cases courts are likely to make decisions designed to allow a child to continue relationships with both parents.
Some of the other various factors that shape the best interest standard revolve around each parent’s opportunity to create an intimate and ongoing relationship with a child including the mental and emotional health of each parent, details about each parent’s occupation, and whether the parent’s living conditions are suitable for the child.
Courts also examine element the child in question including: the child’s connection with each parent, any of the special needs of the child, and the child’s possible preference in parents assuming that the child is mature enough to make such a decision. These factors are just some of the various standards that influence how courts define the best interest standard.
Although the best interest standard in custody cases often involves allowing a child to maintain close relationships with both parents, in some situations it is impractical for a child to maintain an ongoing relationship with both parents. In situations where a child is relocated to an area outside of Alabama, additional laws are applicable.
If you are involved in a divorce in Shelby County, Jefferson County, or the surrounding area that involves a court’s interpretation of the “best interest” standard, it is essential to contact a seasoned Birmingham family law attorney who knows how to approach this standard to arrive at the best potential result.
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