Determining the Best Interests of the Child

Courts make a variety of decisions that affect children, including placement and custody determinations, safety and permanency planning, and proceedings for termination of parental rights. Whenever a court makes such a determination, judges must weigh whether the decision will be in the “best interests” of the child.

A review of State laws indicate that all States, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands have statutes describing the factors that must be considered to ensure that decisions regarding a child’s custody or placement serve that child’s best interests.

Read the full brief. Administration for Children and Families. 2020.

To access the statutes for a specific State or territory, visit the State Statutes Search.

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