When a lawyer tells you the Judge will consider the “best interest” of the child, what does this mean? The Court considers a number of factors when making decisions about your children. These factors include the Holley factors, which arose from the Holley v. Adams case. The Holley factors are:
- The desires of the child;
- The emotional and physical needs of the child now and in the future;
- The emotional and physical danger (of one parent) to the child now and in the future;
- The parental abilities of the individuals seeking custody;
- The programs available to assist the parents;
- The plans for the child by these individuals;
- The stability of both parties’ homes and any acts or omissions of a parent which may indicate; that the existing parent-child relationship is not a proper one; and
- Any excuse for the acts or omissions of a parent.
If your lawyer indicates that the Court will be considering the “best interest” of the child (which is considered in most family law cases), you should be prepared to:
- Identify facts that you can apply that are good for you that can be applied to each of the Holley; and
- Identify facts that you can apply that are negative about the other party that can be applied to each of the Holley.
You should also be prepared to defend against bad facts that the other side might say about you that might be applied to the Holley factors, and be prepared to counter good facts the other party might allege about themselves that you can contradict.
This list is not an exhaustive list of considerations, as the Court can consider other factors that may be appropriate. Further, the Court does not necessarily have to consider each of the factors above, and the Court can give more or less weight to any individual fact presented or factor to be considered.