"Best Interest of the Child"

A term many have heard when they participate in our legal system in the US. On this page one can explore some thoughts on the phrase "Best Interest of the Child" Also included  is a movie from Lifetime titled "Best Interest of the Children" (1992).

Has this phrase always been part of our legal system?

Here are the basic philosophies that, depending on the nation, history, etc. that have been and/or currently being used:

Best Interest of the Children
1992 Lifetime Movie
Fact-based story of a legal battle fought over custody of five siblings.
Sally Struthers, Sarah Jessica Parker, Lexi Randall

Part 1 ~ Part 2 ~ Part 3 ~ Part 4 ~ Part 5 ~ Part 6 ~ Part 7 ~ Part 8 ~ Part 9 ~ Part 10 ~

Part 1

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Part 2

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Part 3

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Part 4

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Part 5

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Part 6

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Part 7

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Part 8

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Part 9

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Part 10

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Best Interest of the Child
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Best interests or best interests of the child is the doctrine used by most courts to determine a wide range of issues relating to the well-being of children. The most important of these issues concern questions that arise upon the divorce or separation of the children's parents. Here are some examples:

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History

The use of the best interests doctrine represented a 20th century shift in public policy. The best interests doctrine is an aspect of parens patriae, and in the United States it has replaced the Tender Years Doctrine, which rested on the basis that children are not resilient, and almost any change in a child's living situation would be detrimental to their well-being

Until the early 1900s, fathers were given custody of the children in case of divorce. Many U.S. states then shifted from this standard to one that completely favored the mother as the primary caregiver. In the 1970s, the Tender Years Doctrine was replaced by the best interests of the child as determined by family courts. Because many family courts continued to give great weight to the traditional role of the mother as the primary caregiver, application of this standard in custody historically tended to favor the mother of the children.

The "best interests of the child" doctrine is sometimes used in cases where non-parents, such as grandparents, ask a court to order non-parent visitation with a child. Some parents, usually those who are not awarded custody, say that using the "best interests of the child" doctrine in non-parent visitation cases fails to protect a fit parent's fundamental right to raise their child in the manner they see fit. Troxel v Granville, 530 US 57; 120 S Ct 2054; 147 LEd2d 49 (2000).

Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Best_interests

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Tender Years Doctrine

The tender years doctrine is a legal principle which has existed in family law since the late nineteenth century. This common law doctrine presumes that during a child's "tender" years (generally regarded as the age of thirteen and under), the mother should have custody of the child. The doctrine often arises in divorce proceedings.

History

Historically the English Family Law gave custody of the children to the father, in case of divorce. Until the nineteenth century the women had few individual rights, most of their rights being derived through their fathers or husbands. In the early nineteenth century, Mrs. Caroline Norton, a prominent British society beauty, feminist, social reforment author, and journalist, began to campaign for the right of women to have custody of their children. Norton, who had undergone a divorce and been deprived of her children, worked with the politicians of those times and eventually was able to convince the British Parliament to enact legislation to protect mothers' rights. The result was the Custody of Infants Act 1839, which gave some discretion to the judge in a child custody case and established a presumption of maternal custody for children under the age of seven years.[1] In 1873 the Parliament extended the presumption of maternal custody until a child reached sixteen years of age.[2]. This doctrine spread then in majority of the states of the world as England was controlling a wide empire. By the end of the 20th century this doctrine was abolished in the majority of the states of USA and Europe.

Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tender_Years_Doctrine

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Shared Parenting

Shared parenting refers to a collaborative arrangement in child custody or divorce determinations in which the care of the children is equal or substantially shared between the biological parents.[1]

It is typically a legal mechanism applied in the divorce or unmarried parent context; in contrast, a Shared Earning/Shared Parenting Marriage is a marriage where the partners choose at the outset of the marriage (and prior to conceiving children) to share the work of childraising, earning money, house chores and recreation time in nearly equal fashion across all four domains.

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Nature and History

Shared parenting arrangements are viewed as encouraging children to know both parents are actively involved and share responsibility in their upbringing.

Shared parenting has also been referred to as "collaborative parenting", "balanced parenting" or "equal shared parenting", and can also apply after the separation of adoptive or other non-biological parents. "Equally shared parenting" refers more commonly to childraising, breadwinning, housework and recreation time that are equally shared between two parents in an intact family.

Legislation in England & Wales

A Shared Parenting Bill was presented by Mr Brian Binley and had a second reading on 17 June 2011. It is a Bill to provide for the making of Shared Parenting Orders and to create a legal presumption that such Orders enhance the welfare of the child unless certain exceptions apply; and for connected purposes.

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