Best interests of the child

When parents or judges make decisions about parenting, the law says they can only consider the child's best interests. This applies to decisions about:

  • guardianship,
  • parental responsibilities,
  • parenting time, and
  • contact with a child.

Section 37 of the Family Law Act lists the facts that you or a court must consider when you decide what's in the child's best interests. These facts include:

  • the child's health and emotional well-being;
  • the child's views, unless it's inappropriate to consider them;
  • the love and affection between the child and other important people in the child's life;
  • the child's need for stability at his or her age and stage of development;
  • the history of the child's care;
  • the ability of parents or others who want guardianship, parenting time, or contact to look after the child;
  • the effect of any family violence on the child's safety, security, and well-being; and
  • whether arrangements that require the child's guardians to cooperate with each other are appropriate.

An agreement or order is in a child's best interests if it protects the child's physical, psychological, and emotional safety, security, and well-being.

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