In a Child’s Best Interests: What does that even mean?

If you’re reading this, it probably means you are involved in a custody case (or soon will be). It won’t be long before you hear the words “in a child’s best interests.” You may know what all those words mean on their own, but do you know what they mean all put together in this phrase?

Oregon Revised Statutes (ORS) 107.137 gives the court a set of factors to consider when the court is deciding what is in a child’s best interests. They are

  1. The emotional ties between the child and other family members;
  2. The interest of the parties in and attitude toward the child
  3. The desirability of continuing an existing relationship
  4. The abuse of one parent by the other
  5. The preference for the primary caregiver of the child, if the caregiver is deemed fit by the court; and
  6. The willingness and ability of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing relationship between the other parent and the child.
    1. However, the court may not consider such willingness and ability if one parent shows that the other parent has sexually assaulted or engaged in a pattern of behavior of abuse against the parent or a child and that a continuing relationship with the other parent will endanger the health or safety of either parent or the child.

In part 2 of this series, we offer an in-depth discussion about Emotional Ties.