Child custody attorneys in Texas are very familiar with the concept of the “best interest of the child.” Family Code §153.002 makes clear that Courts should base any decisions regarding conservatorship and access of a child on factors relevant to the “best interest of the child.”
Child Custody and Holley v. Adams
Child custody is one of the most contested areas of family law practice in Texas. In addition to the Family Code, there are vast amounts of case law discussing how Texas Courts and child custody lawyers should look at child custody issues. One of the more influential cases in Texas is Holley v. Adams, 544 S.W.2d 367 (Tex. 1976). The Holley opinion marked its 40 anniversary in 2016 and is still frequently cited as a leading precedent in family law cases.
What Is Considered To Be In The Best Interest Of The Child?
The Texas Supreme Court outlined several factors in the Holley case that should be considered when determining the best interest f the child. Child custody attorneys have relied on these factors over the years and they are as follows:
What are the child's desires?
What are the present-day and forthcoming child's physical and emotional needs?
Are there present-day and forthcoming physical or emotional dangers to the child?
What are the parental abilities of the parent seeking custody?
What programs are available to help these individuals promote the child's best interest?
What are the plans of these individuals or the agency seeking custody for the involved child?
Is the current or proposed placement home considered to be stable?
What has the parent done or not done as part of the parent-child relationship that might be preceived as inappropriate?
Are there any claimed excuses for the above parental actions or lack of action?
This is by no means an exhaustive list and the factors have been adapted and modified over time to fit specific situations. What is important to remember about the Holley case is that it helped clearly define the standards for child custody determinations in Texas.
The Emotional Trap Of A Child Custody Battle
While the above listed factors appear to be straight forward enough, it is unfortunate that the emotional aspects of a child custody battle often intervene to create conflict in the courtroom. Simply browse the internet for articles related to fathers rights issues and you will find countless stories of numerous men who have felt abandoned by the Family Court system because of a perceived bias in favor of women as parents.
On the other hand, it is easy to see how many mothers feel a strong emotional attachment to their children, especially after giving birth and/or breast feeding a child. It is clear that any parent who loves their children truly wants what is in their children’s best interest. What is less clear is how to control the emotional aspect of a parent’s desire to ensure the best life for their children.
As an experienced child custody lawyer, I recommend to anyone involved in a child custody battle to try your best to objectively make decisions concerning your children. Put your emotions aside. Imagine your child’s day-to-day life in your home versus the other parent’s home - but please be realistic. You cannot always “win” for yourself in a child custody dispute; however, you always have a chance to “win” for your child. These two options are not always the same thing. It is sad to see people who are unfit parents desperately try to keep custody of their children with little concern what the outcome will mean to their own children.
Best advice from child custody attorneys? Remember to put your child first - and everyone will win.
Garza & Elizondo, LLP
680 East St. Charles St, Suite 600
Brownsville TX 78520
1393 East Alton Gloor Blvd, Suite 12
Brownsville TX 78526