Determining the Best Interests of the Child - District of Columbia

Date: September 2023

Guiding Principles

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

 Best Interests Factors

Citation: Citation: Ann. Code § 16-2353 


A judge may enter an order for the termination of the parent and child relationship when the judge finds from the evidence presented, after giving due consideration to the interests of all parties, that the termination is in the best interests of the child. In determining whether it is in the child's best interests that the parent and child relationship be terminated, a judge shall consider each of the following factors:

  • The child's need for continuity of care and caregivers and for timely integration into a stable and permanent home, taking into account the differences in the development and the concept of time for children of different ages
  • The physical, mental, and emotional health of all individuals involved to the degree that such affects the welfare of the child, the decisive consideration being the physical, mental, and emotional needs of the child
  • The quality of the interaction and interrelationship of the child with their parent, sibling, relative, and/or caregivers, including the foster parent
  • Whether the child was left by their parent, guardian, or custodian in a hospital located in the District of Columbia for at least 10 calendar days following the child's birth, despite a medical determination that the child was ready for discharge from the hospital, and the parent, guardian, or custodian of the child has not taken any action or made any effort to maintain a parental, guardianship, or custodial relationship, or contact with the child 
  • To the extent feasible, the child's opinion of their own best interests in the matter
  • Evidence that drug-related activity continues to exist in a child's home environment after intervention and services have been provided by law

Other Considerations

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.