Paula Lock Smyth Law Offices
“Train up a child in
the way he should go
and when he is old,
he will not depart
from it.”
Proverbs 22:6

How does the best interests of the child impact child custody?

Child custody issues impact many families, but many parents may not understand how Texas courts make child custody decisions. Courts may evaluate each parent's capacity to care for the child under the circumstances, but the focus of their decision isn't on the parents so much as on the child. In general, child custody decisions are based on a legal standard known as "the best interests of the child." To arrive at the best interests of the child, courts will consider a variety of factors.

Under "the best interests of the child" standard, Texas courts must consider what actions, orders and services will best benefit the child. It is important to keep in mind that the child's well-being and safety will, at all times, be a guiding consideration.

In Texas, it is considered important that timely and permanent decisions regarding child custody be made. Factors to consider when determining the best interests of the child are noted by law in Texas but courts are also encouraged to consider all relevant factors. Factors that will be considered include a parent's capacity to adequately provide food, clothing, medical care and a safe environment for the child. The mental and physical health of the child's parents will also be evaluated when making a child custody determination.

Often in child custody disputes, parents can get caught up in fighting each other and lose focus on the child's needs. The best interests of the child standard help keeps all parties involved in a child custody situation focused on arriving at an outcome that offers the greatest benefit to the child. Understanding how it is determined, and what role it plays in child custody decisions, can help parents remain focused, along with the courts, on their child's health and safety.

Source: Child Welfare Information Gateway, "Determining the Best Interests of the Child," accessed Sept. 2, 2014

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