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Journal Issue: Children and Divorce Volume 4 Number 1 Spring/Summer 1994

The Determination of Child Custody
Joan B. Kelly

The Most Appropriate Standard

The most appropriate statutory standard for making decisions in custody disputes is the best interests of the child. Given the increasingly larger diversity of family styles, values, and traditions in our culture, decisions about children and parent-child relationships after divorce should be case-by-case decisions. The best interests standard can be more thoughtfully applied when states adopt criteria that delineate important factors to be considered, and decisions will achieve more uniformity with appropriate judicial education. Finally, if educational and mediation programs are available in all jurisdictions, parents will be encouraged to focus on their children's needs, and the majority will settle the issues of access and custody without reliance upon adversarial processes.