In child custody cases in British Columbia, courts apply the best interests of the child standard when issuing their rulings and orders. It is important for parents to understand that the emphasis will always be on the child’s interests rather than on their own interests, wants or needs.
In making their decisions, judges consider a number of factors that are outlined in the Family Law Act. For example, the court may take into consideration the child’s health and happiness as well as their wishes. The child’s wishes will only be considered, however, if a judge determines such a consideration is appropriate.
Other factors include the relationship the child has with each parent, the history of who provided the child’s care, the child’s need for stability and whether there has been a history of family violence. Family violence may affect a custody decision regardless of it it was directed at the child or at another person in the child’s presence. Courts consider family violence to the extent of its impact on the child and how it might affects the parent’s ability to provide adequate care. Additional considerations include whether any civil or criminal proceedings might affect the child’s safety, health or happiness. Finally, courts will look at evidence regarding the ability of each parent to provide care as well as their ability to work together for the benefit of the child.
Child custody cases are often fraught with emotion and resulting conflict. By understanding how courts determine the outcome of a dispute, parents may better understand how to collect evidence and present it to support their custody request. People who are going through a custody dispute may benefit by seeking the help of a family law lawyer. A lawyer may be able to better advise clients on the evidence needed. He or she may also be able to negotiate an agreement or litigate in court.
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