In the District, when parents fight over custody, the court places the child with the person who, the court believes, is in the “best interests of the child”. While this phrase has a complicated and often deceptive meaning, put simply it is where the child will best thrive and grow up to be a productive member of society. This phrase will bring about discussions and often verbal fights, about which parent the child has the best relationship with, who has spent the most time with the child, what situation is the child used to, and who has not hurt the child.
While this sounds like a good foundation to stand on, this discussion is happening at the expense of the child. We are talking about two adults who could not agree on where the child should go or what the child should do, so they go to a room full of people and argue, all the while the child is stuck in the middle, being asked questions like, where do you want to go? One would think that parents would speak praises about themselves and all they have done for this child, but no, instead they offer attempts to tear down the other parent, with allegations after allegations about how bad the other person is. I cannot blame the parents because this is a high stakes emotional roller-coaster with the loss of a child as a consequence to failure.
So whose best interest is this proceeding in? Not the child. YES, it’s in the parents’ best interest and whatever motivation they have for coming before the court. All be it that a lot of times there are really good reasons to go, but in the end, the child is losing a full time parent, to be replaced by a part time one.
DC Family Lawyer