What is “Best Interest of the Child”?
When you are involved in a child custody battle, whether it is from a divorce or a paternity case, it is a difficult to maintain a balance between your compassion, your fears, and your frustrations. Should you be aggressive? Should you crush the other parent? Should you be in total control, or should you be kind, caring, and compassionate towards the other parent? Believe it or not, there is a right answer. What is in the best interest of your child?
But, how do determine what that means? After years of experience doing child custody cases and working with children through that process, it became clear that children need four things:
Love without conditions. This means to love unselfishly. To care about their happiness first and being willing to do anything in order provide them happiness without expecting anything in return. In other words, unconditional love is given without expecting or even really caring if that love is reciprocated.
Order and continuity are essential to maintaining a child’s mental and emotional well-being. A stable environment provides a sense of constancy and predictability. Routine is an essential component of a child’s overall well-being. Although many adults perceive children as liking surprises and spontaneity, their enjoyment for the unpredictable emerges from a knowledge that they can and will return to a stable and reliable routine; something they can trust to be real and they can count on.
Stability feeds right into the issue of safety. Does the child feel safe and secure in their home and in their relationships. Are there strangers coming in and out of the house that make them feel afraid? Do the adults in the home behave unpredictably due to substance abuse or a lack good coping skills? Are disciplinary standards appropriate and consistent? Is conflict effectively dealt with in the household? Children are very sensitive to these dynamics and absorb everything around them. If the world around them is chaotic and perilous, their behavior will reflect that.
Kids don’t like to be lied to and most of the time they know when it’s happening. It is important for children to be able to trust their parents. Moreover, it is important that parents tell children the truth, so that they can learn healthy coping skills. Children learn from adults and it does not set a good precedent to teach them that it is acceptable to lie. If truth is a vague and optional concept it tends to undermine the love, stability, and safety that are so crucial to a child’s development and well-being.
It is important to find an aggressive and compassionate attorney who can help guide you. Make sure your attorney is thinking about the best interest of your child, and not just about their own wallet. The best Tulsa attorney will help to ensure everyone is working to create a solution that is in the best interest of your child, but is not afraid to fight when the other side can’t be rational.
Author: Lauren Stanley, MSt