Monthly Archives: April 2016

Courts, Parents and the Kids’ Best Interests

 Courts, Parents and the Kids’ Best Interests by Sandy Balick{2:48 minutes to read} As a family mediator, I’m naturally inclined towards the mediation process, in the strong belief that it offers a much better forum in which to thrash out issues, both large and small, than the courtroom. This is especially the case, I believe, when it comes to finances and the equally combustible issue of child custody (we prefer the reference “parenting” to “custody” given the latter’s grim institutional implications), which is the focus of this article, the first in a series of 3 posts.

In the case of children, it’s all about their “best interests,” the touchstone phrase that affords courts very wide latitude in crafting parenting orders. The statute (Domestic Relations Law § 70 (a)) does not recognize automatic custodial right in one parent or the other. In the very denatured style of statutory law, it states: In all cases there shall be no prima facie right to the custody of the child in either parent, but the court shall determine solely what is in the best interest of the child, and what will best promote its welfare and happiness, and make award accordingly. Just what these interests are is amplified through statutory language and the prose of countless court decisions. Continue reading