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Best Interest of the Child

When dealing with custody issues the court’s primary concern is what is in the child’s best interest. In the mid 1970’s the Texas Supreme Court in the Holley v. Adams opinion compiled a non-exhaustive list of factors to consider when determining what is in the child’s best interest. The factors fall into three broad categories 1. Caring for the child, 2. Maintaining family relationships and 3. Parental fitness.

The caring for the child factors include:

a. The child’s physical and emotional needs;
b. The risk of the child being put in physical and/or emotional danger;
c. The stability of each parent’s home;
d. Each parent’s plans for the child;
e. The cooperation between the parents;
f. Parenting skills; and
g. Which parent has been the child’s primary caregiver.

The maintaining family relationships factors include:

a. The child’s preferences;
b. The geographic proximity of the parties;
c. If the child has siblings;
d. How each parent promotes relationships between the child and the other parent;
e. Have there been any false reports of child abuse; and
f. Are there any concerns regarding international child abduction.

The parental fitness factors include:

a. Has there been a history or pattern of abuse;
b. Has there been an intentional use of abusive physical force;
c. Has there been family violence;
d. Drug or alcohol abuse;
e. Sexual conduct; and
f. A parties present fitness and recent past conduct.

The following factors cannot be considered when determining a party’s fitness as a parent:

a. Marital status;
b. Gender;
c. Race; and
d. Religion.

Categories: Family Law, child custody
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