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The Best Interest of the Child Principle

Texas courts today base child custody determinations on the “best interest of the child.” This standard calls for the development of an appropriate parenting plan that best benefits the child’s physical and sociological development. In addition to reflecting the best interest of a child, a court in Texas must also give effect to the legal rights of the non-custodial parent to form or maintain relationships with children. Some groups have criticized the best interest of the child standard as being controlled too much by the subjective nature of judges, which might obscure what really is in the child’s best interest. This article will examine the various components that judges analyze when determining the best interests of a child.

Factors Regarding The Best Interest of the Child

The 1976 Texas Supreme Court case of Holley v. Adams describes the various factors that a family court of law considers in deciding the best interests of a child. Some of the factors include the following:

  • The Child’s Desire. It is believed by the court that the child in question if age 12 or older will be able to best determine the situation that will be in his best interest.
  • The Child’s Needs. The emotional and physical needs of the child now and in the future are taken into consideration by the family court. The family court aims to provide a child with as identical as possible resources as possible before the divorce.
  • The mental and physical danger posed to the child now and in the future will be taken into consideration by the family court regarding the child’s best interest.
  • Improper Parent Relationship. Any evidence that a parent-child relationship is an improper one can reflect on a decision regarding the child’s best interest. Improper treatment of a child might include abuse, neglect or any type of negative treatment. This factor will also analyze any past abuse committed by one parent or a member of the parent’s family.
  • Parental Ability. The parental ability of the parent seeking custody will also be taken into consideration. If one parent has consistently taken care of the child, this fact might prove very persuasive in deciding which parent is awarded custody of the child. A parent must be able to ensure to a child’s daily physical and emotional developmental, as well as educational and various other needs.
  • The stability of the child’s home or living environment can impact a family court of law’s decision. Family courts will favor settings in which a child is already well adjusted in an existing home when analyzing this factor. Some sources that suggest stability include a child’s strong relationship with other siblings and the availability of extended family members.

While family courts in Texas have the authority to decide issues regarding child custody, there is also a policy preference that favors alternative dispute resolution in custody cases. These arbitrations can result in written binding agreements regarding child custody. In case alternative dispute resolution is unsuccessful, however, family courts may ultimately settle any issues regarding child custody support.

Negotiating for the rights of a child requires the expertise of a seasoned Texas family law attorney who understand the various factors that might influence a family court’s reasoning. If you are faced with a familiar situation, do not hesitate to contact Conner & Lindamood, P.C. in Houston, where our lawyers will fight passionately regarding your child custody rights.

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