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Sapere aude - dare to be wise
Friday, October 08, 2004
Posted 2:47 PM by Brian D.
The Best Interest Of The Child

A coalition led by the Indiana Civil Rights Council is planning to sue all 50 states in an attempt to change child custody laws that are perceived as unfair.
The lawsuits use a wide range of constitutional grounds to argue that a child's natural parents both have an equal right to custody, but that right for one parent is too often trumped by a swell-sounding but ill-defined legal standard known as "the best interest of the child."

Some of us are children of a divorced marriage. Some of us are divorced parents. Many of us have lived under the Best Interest Of The Child standard in one way or another. While many would argue that the Best Interest standard is a good idea, I suspect fewer supporters would agree that it is always implemented the way it should be. The plaintiffs in the lawsuit content that the rights of 25 million non-custodial parents have been violated by a lack of a presumptive standard of 50-50 joint custody.
[A Pennsylvania] bill would set a "presumptive standard"
that physical custody should be split 50-50 unless one parent can prove that
there's a good reason for a different arrangement. Legal custody, which gives
both parents a say in issues such as religion, health and education, can be
shared equally even when physical custody is not.

Why have the presumptive standard?
[A]dvocates say it's discriminatory not to equally protect both parents' full rights until and unless the facts show that one parent has forfeited them.

The relationship between parent and child is emotional and important to many. I don't know whether the Best Interest standard or Presumptive 50-50 standard is the best. If this much controversy exists though, perhaps experts in the fields of family and constitutional law, psychology, education, and legislators should have a long talk to figure out what is best for the child.

As seen in the
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