If you have ever been involved in a physical placement dispute, then you are familiar with the term child's best interest. Child's best interest is a simple concept which guides the court's decisions when it comes to which parent gets how much placement (time) with the child. Section 767.41(5) instructs that when applying this concept, the court shall also consider several other factors. Some of the more measurable factors include the wishes of the parties, the wishes of the child, the interaction and interrelationship of the child with the parents and other family members, and the amount and quality of times each parent spends with the child.
Other more difficult to assess, but no less important, factors include the child's adjustment to the home, school, religion and community, the age-based developmental and educational needs of the child, the mental or physical health of the child, the child's intellectual, physical, or emotional well-being, the cooperation and communication between the parties, and whether each party can support the other party's relationship with the child.
This second set of factors is where many parents get tripped up. Involving the court in your family is extremely stressful and frustrating, to help get the physical placement you feel you are entitled to requires that you understand the needs of your child and that you can demonstrate that you can give them what they need. The court easily recognizes when a parent is more concerned about their own needs, and will typically rule accordingly. The courts want to reward the selfless. This does not require you to become a martyr, just that you know your child's best interests. Get to know your children. Celebrate their successes and accomplishments. And have the courage to help them with deficiencies.
This blog entry was prepared by Nathan M. Jurowski, Wassel, Harvey & Schuk, LLP. It does not constitute legal advice, create an attorney-client relationship, or constitute legal authority.