By: Libby Skarin, Policy Director
American Civil Liberties Union of North Dakota
(An edited version of this post appeared in the Grand Forks Herald on October 7, 2014)
Divorce or separation isn't easy for anyone, especially kids. During such a stressful time in a family's life it's important for parents to pay particular attention to the needs of their children. We know this intuitively, and North Dakota law recognizes it explicitly. When making child custody decisions in disputed cases, North Dakota courts are currently required to examine each particular case according to one overarching standard: the best interests of the child.
According to the United States Children's Bureau, "best interests" determinations are "generally made by considering a number of factors related to the child's circumstances and the parent or caregiver's circumstances and capacity to parent." Under this standard the child's safety and well-being is the most important concern. But this could all change if voters approve Measure 6 on the November ballot.