When a Texas court deliberates on a child custody issue, the most important factors considered are the well-being and best interests of the child. Texas law follows a variety of guidelines when examining a case. These statutes guide the court in determining what factors are involved in determining best interests.
When a child custody case is contested, all parties will need to provide proof that they are offering what is in the child's best interests. One of the most important factors is the child's health and safety. The court examines which parent or other relative can offer the child a home that is safe and nurturing as well as free of abuse and violence. This also means meeting any of the child's special health and safety needs. Parents' histories may also be strongly considered, especially any history of abuse, drug use or allowing others who perpetrate abuse or drug use into the home.
If a family member is not readily able to meet the criteria, then the court will examine how readily they are willing to make changes and make use of services provided. Custody plans can change as a parent's circumstances improve. Furthermore, the court understands the importance of maintaining a relationship between the child and both parents.
A contested child custody case can be stressful for any parent. Since there are many factors involved in determining best interests, an attorney can prove beneficial in helping a parent organize and present their case. An attorney can also advise a client on making use of other services to improve their situation in the eyes of the court. If a parent is facing a complete loss of custody, small improvements can be the difference between a sole and joint custody decision.
Source: Child Welfare Information Gateway, "Determining the Best Interests of the Child", December 12, 2014