The Legislature finds that it is in the best interests of a child that a parenting plan be developed in any proceeding under Chapter 42 involving custody, parenting time, visitation, or other access with a child and that the parenting plan establish specific individual responsibility for performing such parenting functions as are necessary and appropriate for the care and healthy development of each child affected by the parenting plan.
The Legislature further finds that it is in the best interests of a child to have a safe, stable, and nurturing environment. The best interests of each child shall be paramount and consideration shall be given to the desires and wishes of the child if of an age of comprehension regardless of chronological age, when such desires and wishes are based on sound reasoning.
In any proceeding involving a child, the best interests of the child shall be the standard by which the court adjudicates and establishes the individual responsibilities, including consideration in any custody, parenting time, visitation, or other access determinations as well as resolution of conflicts affecting each child. The state presumes the critical importance of the parent-child relationship in the welfare and development of the child and that the relationship between the child and each parent should be equally considered unless it is contrary to the best interests of the child.
Given the potential profound effects on children from witnessing child abuse or neglect or domestic intimate partner abuse, as well as being directly abused, the courts shall recognize the duty and responsibility to keep the child or children safe when presented with a preponderance of the evidence of child abuse or neglect or domestic intimate partner abuse, including evidence of a child being used by the abuser to establish or maintain power and control over the victim. In domestic intimate partner abuse cases, the best interests of each child are often served by keeping the child and the victimized partner safe and not allowing the abuser to continue the abuse. When child abuse or neglect, domestic intimate partner abuse, or unresolved parental conflict prevents the best interests of the child from being served in the parenting arrangement, then the safety and welfare of the child is paramount in the resolution of those conflicts.