The best interest of the child is a legal standard used by courts to help answer case issues involving the custody of children. The courts often turn to previous case law when making decisions, and when it comes to the best interest of the child cases in Texas, courts often turn to Holley v. Adams.
In this case the court provides a list of factors to consider when making this decision. These factors can include:
- Child’s wishes. This is especially important when the child is older.
- Physical and emotional needs of the child.
- Presence of any emotional or physical danger for the child, now or in the future.
- Parental ability to meet the child’s needs.
The State Bar of Texas, a group representing legal professionals from throughout the state, encourages further guidance based on the child’s age. When the child is an infant, it explains that the court will often consider whether or not the parent has shown the capability for meeting the young child’s needs. For toddlers ranging in age from 18 months to 5 years, the court may consider the types of learning opportunities the parent can provide the child as well as how they will handle the child’s care — are they working or will they be home with the child? If working, the court would likely delve into the type of care arrangements available for the child.
As the child ages through their elementary and high school years, the court will likely look into how the parent helps with homework and extracurricular activities as well as how they communicate with and involve the other parent.
What can I do to help build my case for child custody?
It is important to gather evidence to show that you can meet the needs of the child both in their current phase of development and as they grow. The exact evidence needed will vary depending on the situation, but could include a history of taking the child to school or extracurriculars, attending parent/teacher conferences as well as a clear plan for where they will live and how you will meet their needs.