Best Interest of the Child Law and Legal Definition

The best interest of the child is a standard used in family law to make decisions impacting a child in matters of adoption, child custody, guardianship, and visitation, among other issues. It is a subjective, discretionary test, in which all circumstances affecting the child are taken into account.

The following is an example of one's state's statute delaing with the best interest of the child:

"For purposes of shared parental responsibility and primary residence, the best interests of the child shall include an evaluation of all factors affecting the welfare and interests of the child, including, but not limited to:

  1. the parent who is more likely to allow the child frequent and continuing contact with the nonresidential parent;
  2. the love, affection, and other emotional ties existing between the parents and the child;
  3. the capacity and disposition of the parents to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care, and other remedial care recognized and permitted under the laws of this state in lieu of medical care, and other material needs;
  4. the length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity;
  5. the permanence, as a family unit, of the existing or proposed custodial home;
  6. the moral fitness of the parents;
  7. the mental and physical health of the parents;
  8. the home, school, and community record of the child,
  9. the reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient intelligence, understanding, and experience to express a preference;
  10. the willingness and ability of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship between the child and the other parent;
  11. any other fact considered by the court to be relevant."