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What does best interest of the child mean?

On Behalf of | Feb 15, 2022 | Uncategorized

Divorces in Mississippi become much more complex when children are involved.

Mississippi courts make custody determinations based on what is in the best interests of the children. This vague language can be confusing for parents, who often wonder how a court will decide what is in a child’s best interest.

If parents cannot come to an agreement on custody, the court will examine several factors to determine what is in a child’s best interest. The court starts with an assumption that each parent has an equal right to custody time. From there, factors such as the following are considered:

  • Which parent was the children’s primary caregiver during the marriage
  • The emotional bond between each parent and the children
  • The moral fitness of each parent
  • The parenting abilities of each parent

It is understandable if some of these factors still seem vague. For example, individual judges may have different ideas about what makes a parent “morally fit”. Parents who are involved in custody litigation can benefit from having an experienced custody attorney who can help develop arguments to make based on these factors.

What if my child wants to live with me?

A common misconception is that once a child reaches a certain age, custody is determined based on which parent they would like to live with. This is only partially true. If a child is over the age of 12, their custody preference may be considered by a judge.

However, the judge must have already concluded that both parents are otherwise fit. A judge is also not legally required to decide custody solely based on the child’s wishes. If a judge gets the sense that the child is being influenced or coerced by one parent to express a certain custody preference, this could result in a negative custody ruling for that parent.

Each custody situation is unique, and judges understand that. Therefore, these factors are applied based on the specific facts of every situation.