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Child custody decisions are among the most difficult for judges to make. The possibility of child abuse allegations or parents' deviant/ psychopathologic behaviours within this context, make the decision further complicated. Based on jurisprudence the listening of children opinion is a way to protect their best interest. In fact children have the right to express an opinion in all matters affecting their life. It should be given proper consideration to children opinion according with his/her age and maturity. Nonetheless custody disputes are emotionally draining issues. Asking the child to express an opinion during a public hearing, most likely in the presence of both parents, its not recommended because this is a potential stressful experience. Child interviews should take place in a proper environment and be set to their age. Medicine and Psychology have an important role in assessing children cognitive, emotional and volitional abilities, which is essential to properly account their opinions according to autonomy degree. This essay analyses the contribution of medico-legal and/or psychological exams to respect the autonomy of the child in cases of regulation of parental responsibilities. The conclusion is the need to establish a symbiotic relationship between the medical and legal perspectives of the (open) concept of child's best interests.
This article was published in the following journal.
Name: Acta mÃ©dica portuguesa
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The formally authorized guardianship or care of a child.
Repeated physical injuries inflicted on the child by the parent, parents, or surrogate parent; often triggered by the child's minor and normal irritating behavior.
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Sexual maltreatment of the child or minor.
Self-directing freedom and especially moral independence. An ethical principle holds that the autonomy of persons ought to be respected. (Bioethics Thesaurus)
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