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Best interest of child test elements used in trial

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  • Best interest of child test elements used in trial

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Although there is no standard definition of “best interests of the child,” the term generally refers to the deliberation that courts undertake when deciding what type of services, actions, and orders will best serve a child as well as who is best suited to take care of a child. “Best interests” determinations are generally made by considering a number of factors related to the child’s circumstances and the parent or caregiver’s circumstances and capacity to parent, with the child’s ultimate safety and well-being the paramount concern. Child support is a payment made to the parent or other court ordered individual in which a child (or children) primarily resides.  The payment is provided by the parent who does not having majority timesharing with the minor child or children. Child support is a statutory finding pursuant to child support guidelines.  We assist our clients in contesting child support based on the guidelines. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy is for an individual who satisfies the means test. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy is not for partnerships or corporations. The process generally takes about 4-6 months from filing the petition to receiving a discharge. Chapter 7 bankruptcies are typically filed by people with unmanageable amounts of consumer debts, such as credit card debt, medical bills, certain taxes and student loans, and payday loans. It can also be used to get rid of a house or vehicle that the taxpayer can no longer afford and avoid a deficiency judgment. A non-exhaustive list of factors courts may examine in determining the best interest of a child include: (1) the desires of the child; (2) the emotional and physical needs of the child now and in the future; (3) the emotional and physical danger to the child now and in the future; (4) the parental abilities of the individual seeking custody; (5) the programs available to assist the individual; (6) the plans for the child by the parent and the individual seeking custody; (7) the stability of the home; (8) the parent’s acts or omissions that indicate that the existing parent-child relationship is not a proper one; and (9) any excuse for the parent’s acts or omissions. The resolutions of these cases, though justified in some instances by the particular statutes or procedural issues before the court, are in fundamental conflict on when the courts should consider the best interests of the child and how to do so. The conflict is not at heart a legal one but an ethical one. Two categories of problems stand out. The first is balancing the “best interests” test with claims of parental rights. Parents have a right to separate, divorce, and move. They have a right to direct the upbringing of their children, including the right to exclude others from that function. They also have procedural rights to contest custody, visitation, and adoption. But the assertion of any of these rights may conflict with the child’s best interests. The second category is whether determination of the best interests of the child means attending to everything that affects the child or whether certain considerations should be disregarded. Should the courts take into account that one party seeking custody has substantially more income and can give the child better schooling, better medical care, and a less dangerous environment? Should they look at other considerations—homosexuality, religion, race, ancestry, etc? What about “living in a free country” or being a member of an ethnic community to which one has ancestral ties? Or does “best interests” mean the interests of the child in nurture and care apart from these considerations? Research in developmental psychology tells us that children need stability and security and are harmed when they lose their ongoing intimate relationships with those few adults who provide their nurture and care. A large literature in psychology documents the importance of these relationships of attachment between caregiver and child, especially for young children. When these relationships are stable, they serve as a secure base from which the young child ventures forth into the world of other people, things, and events. Children who enjoy relationships of intimacy and security with their closest caregiver(s) in the first three years are more likely than those who do not to be curious and explore their environments. They are more likely to be friendly and successful relating to other children and new adult caregivers, better able to communicate, more able to play and learn independently, and more likely to grow up to have successful relationships in marriage and at work. Psychologists and psychiatrists have taken this framework into the clinical realm. Good bodies of case material and descriptive studies of groups of people who have experienced loss of important ties demonstrate the existence of a pattern of problems now known as “attachment disorder.” When there is disruption of an ongoing important relationship of attachment, the child responds with an increased need to control whatever relationships she has the opportunity to come by. Of course, children have needs other than close attachment. It goes without saying that the placement and support package we create must provide for the child’s food, shelter, clothing, health care, and education. The child must be safe in her home, and she must have the opportunity to develop her skills, interests, and character strengths. The emphasis here is on attachment because this is the domain of early development most commonly misunderstood, under-valued, and ignored by the legal system. From the viewpoint of a developmental psychologist, early successful attachment becomes the working model of how to relate to other people while being an independent person, as well. We must protect children’s rights to continue their close relationships with nurturing adults.