September 30, 2019 | Share
How Does a Texas Court Determine the Best Interest of the Child?
Like most states, Texas law requires custody determinations to be based on the best interest of the child. While this seems like a broad and somewhat vague standard, there are specific factors the court will likely consider, including parental ability, the physical and emotional needs of the child now and in the future, and programs available to assist the parent and the children. As McKinney child custody attorneys, we are experienced in handling complex custody matters and advising our clients how to establish each of the factors the court will consider in determining custody.
Importantly, Texas law does allow separating or divorcing parents to submit a proposed parenting plan to the court. If they do not, or if the plan does not reflect the child’s best interest, the court will decide on a custody arrangement. The factors Texas courts will consider are based on a 1976 decision of the Texas Supreme Court, Holley vs. Adams.
The Holley Factors
- The preferences of any child over the age of 12
- The physical and emotional needs of the child now and in the future
- Any emotional or physical danger to the child now and in the future
- The parental ability of the individual seeking custody
- Programs available to assist the parent and the children
- The plans for the child by the parent seeking custody
- The stability of the home for proposed placement
- Acts or omissions of the parent that may indicate that the existing parent-child relationship is not a proper one
- Any excuse of the acts or omissions of the parent
The American Bar Association has recommended that a child’s development (the second Holley Factor) be a paramount consideration of the court. The ABA suggests that the court would benefit from answers to certain age-specific questions. For example, if the child is 0-18 months, whether the parent is aware of things that could endanger an infant may be considered. For a toddler, the ABA suggests the court should consider the kinds of learning opportunities the parent creates for the child to master physical and mental tasks. For elementary and middle school-aged children, the court should focus on the extent of the parent’s involvement in the child’s school and community, and whether the parent provides the child with time and place to do homework, and provides assistance when needed, as well as whether the parents recognizes the importance of peer friendships and fosters such relationships. For high school-aged children, the ABA recommends consideration of whether the parent is well informed of the adolescent’s school attendance and performance, and helps the teen to evaluate and assess decisions about the future.
Preparing thoughtful answers to these and other age-specific questions about your child’s development is key to showing that the “best interest of the child” is served by awarding custody to you.
Let Our McKinney Child Custody Attorneys Help You
If you need assistance with a child custody matter, we welcome you to contact us for a free consultation.
Categories: Family Law & Divorce