Susan R. Rogers

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Courts all across this country are attempting to balance the interests of children and parents. It has long been the general rule that natural parents, if considered fit, have the right to the custody of their children, uninterrupted even by a state exercising its parens-patriae power. This right of the natural parent has traditionally taken precedence over the interests of everyone else, including the best interests of the child.

There has been a recent trend, however, toward paying more attention to what the court feels is in the best interests of the child. Although the law is still weighted in favor of the natural parent, courts are increasingly willing to interfere with parents' rights if called for by the best interests of the child. One example of this trend is exemplified by those courts which have recognized the importance of the "psychological parent" as explained by Goldstein, Freud and Solnit in their book, Beyond the Best Interests of the Child.

This trend toward the best interests of the child, while often very beneficial for the child, heralds an increase in the state's parens patriae power to intervene in the lives of its citizens. Although the reasons behind intervention and the results of it are often desirable, we must consider the consequences of permitting more state intervention.

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