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Family law: What is considered the best interests of a child?

When British Columbia couples who have children file for divorce, many decisions must be made about the children. These include guardianship, parental responsibilities and the contact and parenting time each parent will have. Under the Family Law Act, the primary focus of the court must be on the best interests of the child. However, what does that mean? It requires an order or agreement to protect the child's safety, well-being and security -- physical, emotional and psychological.

Factors that the court will weigh include the emotional welfare and health of the child. If appropriate, the court may consider the child's wishes and views. The child's relationships with the important people in his or her life -- along with the mutual affection and love -- will play an important part when guardianship decisions are made.

The judge will also consider the child's age and need for security and stability along with his or her level of development. The child's history related to care and any prior incidents of neglect or abuse will be noted, as that could threaten the child's security and safety. Once the court has established the ability of both parents and any other individuals seeking guardianship to provide proper care, it will determine whether workable arrangements for the sharing of the care can be made.

Any British Columbia parent who is in the midst of a divorce is free to seek the support and guidance of an experienced family law lawyer. Such a professional can answer questions and explain the complexities of the law when it comes to the best interests of the child. The lawyer can advocate for the parent in court and assist with securing an ongoing parent-child relationship.

Source: familylaw.lss.bc.ca, "Best interests of the child", April 14, 2017

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