How to Measure Best Interests of the Child and Other Intangible Concepts in Family Law

We know that it’s fairly typical to measure certain things. We know how to measure the length of a fence. We can measure the results of a math test. We can measure the height of a building. But how do you measure something like the “best interests of the child?” This concept and other intangible concepts baffle lawyers all the time. The idea of measuring an intangible flies in the face of what the lawyer hopes to argue. Nevertheless, our firm subscribes to the idea that these intangibles in family law can, in fact, be measured. In his book, “How to Measure Anything,” Douglas W. Hubbard states as follows:

There are three reasons why people think that something can’t be measured. Each of these three reasons is actually based on misconceptions about different aspects of measurement: concept, object and method.”

Hubbard goes on to state, “measurement is a set of observations that reduce the uncertainty where the result is expressed as a quantity.” With this as a backdrop measurement does not need to be exact, 100% accurate or precise. Thus, according to Hubbard, the reduction in uncertainty becomes a measurement. Thus, the concept of measurement is to get away from the idea that we are measuring for exactness.

The next issue Hubbard defines is the object of measurement. We were referring to the best interests of the child. What really is the object to be measured? The Best interests of the child standard can contain a whole host of rights and benefits that comprise the best interest. Maybe it’s access to private school? Maybe it’s access to more money? Maybe it’s access to more security? These things, unbundled, become objects of the measurement. The final aspect is the method in which is used to measure. There is a whole host of options available for measurement depending on the level of uncertainty and risk tolerance.

Suffice it to say that when we deconstruct the whole idea of measuring intangibles in family law we get a better understanding that we can, in fact, take steps to measure what we thought was immeasurable. This is what our firm does. Contact us if you would like a deeper understanding on how to measure, for yourself and for the court, the issues of your case in the context of the law. You can reach us at or call us at 505-880-8737.