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Document Type

Article

Media Type

Text

Abstract

Since the 1960s, our nation's courts have almost universally relied on a legal standard known as the "best interest of the child" in order to resolve contested issues involving child custody. Critics of the standard conclude that, due to the complexities of defining what will serve a child's best interests, the standard is at best not helpful, and is perhaps even useless. Critics also charge that the standard is indeterminate, and depends too heavily on the subjective values and life experience of the individual fact finder--the trial judge. In this article, Steven Peskind will review the history of standards used by courts in deciding contested child custody matters. His analysis will focus on the development of custody law from a standard that automatically awarded custody to fathers evolving into the ubiquitous best interest standard used today. It will also address the concerns of the critics of the best interest standard and will conclude that, despite the many profound weaknesses of the standard, there is effectively no better option for courts. The solution, he will opine, is not a different legal standard, but practical changes in the administration of custody cases. These include expedited litigation, less reliance on mental health professionals, and better training.

First Page

449

Last Page

482

Publication Date

7-1-2005

Department

Other

ISSN

0734-1490

Language

eng

Publisher

Northern Illinois University Law Review

Included in

Law Commons

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