What are the “Best Interests of the Child?”-Click Here to leave a comment

Child custody decisions are based on a legal concept of “the best interests of the child,” but interpreting this phrase has been left to individual judges and family relations staff. In 2005 Connecticut passed a law that redefines “the best interests” to include (but not limited to) substantial involvement by both parents. Click here for more on the new law.

But two years later the case of Tauck v. Tauck illustrated how far Connecticut is from protecting the children’s interests. A scorched earth legal battle for custody was waged, largely as a result of Mrs. Tauck’s decision to allege child abuse – an allegation undermined by evidence that Mrs. Tauck had planted false evidence on her husband’s lap top computer. In her final ruling on the case, , Judge Abery-Wetstone said “This case represents not a victory for either parent, but a tragedy for everyone involved.” For more information on the Tauck case, click here:
The evidence shows that the Tauck case is an extreme example of a pattern that is all too common in Connecticut. The Shared Parenting Council of Connecticut obtained data from the Judiciary website on 17,433 cases, over half the cases have been in the courts for over one year; well over 20% have been in the system for over 5 years.

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12 thoughts on “What are the “Best Interests of the Child?”-Click Here to leave a comment

  1. The best interests of the child are active involvement of both parents, except in the relatively rare cases of real violence or addiction clearly harmful to the children. Judicial and family relations involvement should be reoriented to encourage active involvement. Reward the parent that does the most to encourage the other parent!

  2. The best interests of the child would ideally be a no or low conflict relationship between the parents. In situations where both parents want to be significantly involved in the lives of their children, intensified conflict is actually a direct result of a court system that “rewards” one parent as the custodial parent and “punishes” the other parent with less time with the children and in some situations significant economic decline. Shared parenting helps to eliminate conflict and encourages each parent to support the involvement of the other parent. The State of New Jersey has had a shared parenting program in effect for several years now. It’s time for Connecticut laws to evolve to this more equitable concept.

  3. The courts have become the unwitting tools of angry parents. Let’s refocus on the need children have for both parents. Reward the parent that helps the other parent stay involved with the children.

  4. It would be great if courts began to reinforce the child’s family working together. Starting on equal footing with the expectation of shared parenting would be refreshing.

  5. Unfortunately, those least qualified to make a determination regarding “the best interest of the child” are the ones doing it. The courts with an antiquated system without any quality control or self regulation and the custody evaluators with agendas, often most in opposition to what is really the best interest of the child. The parents (and the children when age appropriate) are the most qualified to determine what is in the “best interest.” I agree, beginning with the assumption of equal/shared parenting would be the appropriate starting point. Eliminating the rewards for conflict, limiting the pay to custody evaluators and possibly requiring peer mediation would be other starting points for parents to have equal rights and for children to have both parents.

  6. I’m tired of hearing about Parents rights! Do you all feel that what your asking, to split the children in half, is what the courts had in mind with “the best interests” rule? For a child to never feel at home anywhere becuase they are FORCED to go back and forth between households like a ping pong ball! How about then its enacted that the child stays in one home and the parents rotate out? Bet parents wouldn’t be fighting for their “share” anymore!

  7. I say shared parenting rights from the start with equal time until the child can speak for itself to the courts. Do away with a custodial or non custodial title and eliminate child support altogether. This way money is no longer at the root of custody battles and the parent who always worked to get ahead isn’t penalized for doing so.
    Parents should only lose custody when proven to be abusive, neglectful…etc. Also, parents who are caught lying either in court, on restaining orders, or the like should be prosecuted and automaticaly lose custody. This way all the b.s. in the court system regarding custody would all but end.

    Then again…why would the lawmakers do all this for society and cut their own thoats by losing federal money paid to the states, jobs for lawyers, counselors and more for each case?… They wouldn’t and that’s where the real problem resides

  8. Ben …. interesting thoughts. I think it is worthwhile talking about how money can be minimized as a motivation factor for custody. I know this occurs often. I also find that both parents often really do feel they are advocating in the best interest of the child and they think they can do a better job than the other parent, or they are threatened by the idea of sharing parenting responsibilities. I tend to think that we need a systems that encourage people to work together. I am not sure that punishing people for not working together is the best answer. Then attorneys would spend all their time trying to prove the other party is lying or being uncooperative. I am always interested in others opinions and hope you and others have an opportunity to respond.

    I think there is something to be said for Jon and Diane’s ideas. As a parent, we have to sacrifice to achieve the child’s best interest. Things like living in the same town, school district, allowing the child to see friends that are part of the other families routine, working together to establish consistent routines are all things that may be uncomfortable or inconvenient for us. But allow us to push toward collaborative parenting arrangements. The more we can do to remove the parental conflict the better for the child!

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