glossary

best interests of the child

The "best interests of the child" is a legal test that the court uses to decide many things about children. The test is different for different family law issues.

For example, the best interests of the child test in custody and access cases considers things like:

  • the relationship between each parent and the child
  • the emotional ties between each parent and the child
  • how long the child has lived in a stable situation
  • each parent's plan to care for and bring up the child
  • in some cases, the child’s views and wishes 
  • if there has been abuse against any family member or any child

In child protection cases involving the Children’s Aid Society, the best interests of the child test considers:

  • the child’s views and wishes, unless there’s no way to find out what they are
  • the importance of keeping the child’s identity and connection to their community and culture if they are First Nations, Inuk, or Métis, even if they are not an official member of the community
  • anything else that the judge thinks is important, such as the child’s:
    • physical, mental, and emotional needs and the best way to take care of those needs
    • culture and language
    • race, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, family diversity, sex, and sexual orientation
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