Even if we agree that “best interests of the child” is the gold standard for deciding these questions, there is disagreement about how that test is to be applied. How does this “best interests” test interact with the rights of individual adults to establish and/or maintain nurturing relationships with the child and to make decisions that promote their own goals for a happy and productive life?
The resolutions of these cases, though justified in some instances by the particular statutes or procedural issues before the court, are in fundamental conflict on when the courts should consider the best interests of the child and how to do so. The conflict is not at heart a legal one but an ethical one. Two categories of problems stand out.
The first is balancing the “best interests” test with claims of parental rights. Parents have a right to separate, divorce, and move. They have a right to direct the upbringing of their children, including the right to exclude others from that function. They also have procedural rights to contest custody, visitation, and adoption. But the assertion of any of these rights may conflict with the child’s best interests.
The second category is whether determination of the best interests of the child means attending to everything that affects the child or whether certain considerations should be disregarded. Should the courts take into account that one party seeking custody has substantially more income and can give the child better schooling, better medical care, and a less dangerous environment? Should they look at other considerations—homosexuality, religion, race, ancestry, etc? What about “living in a free country” or being a member of an ethnic community to which one has ancestral ties? Or does “best interests” mean the interests of the child in nurture and care apart from these considerations?Psychotherapist Patient Privilege – Protecting Mental Health Records in Divorces and other Family Law Cases ~~
*Divorce and family law cases sometimes get ugly. And, in ugly cases, it is not uncommon for one or both of the parties to have a personality disorder or other mental health condition. Under certain circumstances, a party’s mental health is legitimately relevant to a proper determination of child custody or alimony. Many times, however, there are improper motivations for seeking confidential mental health records and information. Your family law attorney should know… more »“Florida’s 900 freshwater springs bring families, visitors and job creators to our state,” Florida’s Governor Rick Scott said on Monday as he made another announcement that papers over the truth; this time, related to the failure of the state to protect Florida’s fresh water resources. “Over the last three years,” the governor said, “We have invested record funding for Florida’s springs, and the projects we are announcing today will ensure our springs are protected for future generations to enjoy.” Gov. Scott’s claim is no more true than his assertion to be saving the Everglades. … (Gimleteye) at EYE ON MIAMI more »
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