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Report No. 257

A. Factors to Consider for the Best Interest Standard

5.2 A number of jurisdictions have statutes that enumerate specific factors to guide courts when they consider the best interests of a child. Generally, these factors relate to: the physical and mental condition of the child; the physical and mental condition of each parent; the child's relationship with each parent; the needs of child regarding other important people (siblings, extended family members, peers, etc.); the role each parent has played and will play in the child's care; each parent's ability to support the child's contact and relationship with the other parent; each parent's ability to resolve disputes regarding the child; the child's preference; any history of abuse; and the health, safety, and welfare of the child.116

However, these factors are not exhaustive, and some statutes expressly indicate that courts should consider "other factors as the court deems necessary and proper to the determination."117

116 See Va. Code Ann. § 20-124.3; Colo. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 14-10-124(1.5)(a); West's Ann. Cal. Fam. Code § 3011.

117 Va. Code Ann. § 20-124.3(10); see also 15 V.S.A. § 665 ("[T[he Court shall be guided by the best interests of the child, and shall consider at least the following factors:") (emphasis added); COLO. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 14-10-124(1.5)(a) ("In determining the best interests of the child for purposes of parenting time, the court shall consider all relevant factors, including.").

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