Best Interests of the Child and the Holley Factors
In Texas, child custody decisions will be made by a court based on the best interests of the child. A Texas court will presume that joint legal custody will be best unless one parent can prove otherwise. A court will consider many factors in deciding primary physical custody, including:
- The history of contact between the parent and child
- The relationship between each parent and the child
- The health, safety, and welfare of the child
- The health of the parents
- Where the parents live
- How close the parents live to each other
- Each parents finances
- Any child abuse
In Holley v. Adams—a case involving termination of parental rights—the Texas Supreme Court listed factors a judge should consider when deciding the “best interest” test.
How do Courts Determine Best Interest?
The first Holley factor requires the court to consider the desires of the child.
The second factor is the the physical and emotional needs of the child now and in the future.
The third factor is any emotional and physical danger to the child now and in the future.
Fourthly is the parent’s ability or of the person seeking custody. You can satisfy this factor by showing a parent’s understanding and involvement with the child’s developmental needs.
Next factor is the programs available to assist the parent and the children; what programs are available to meet developmental needs?
The sixth factor is the plans for the child by the parent seeking custody.
Next is the stability of the home for proposed placement.
The eighth and and ninth factors are acts or omissions of the parent. These factors are important because you can use these factors to show that the current parent-child relationship is not proper. Here, a court shall not allow any excuses for these failures to act or omissions.
The trial court has little evidence to distinguish between the abilities of each parent to meet those needs.
What is the Goal? Protect the Child.
The goal and policy of the family laws are to protect the interests of the children and promote amicable resolution of differences.
Lastly, a court presumes that a parent is in the best position to care for their kids. This presumption can be rebutted. In other words, a court may take steps to make sure that children have frequent and continuing contact with their parents. The contacts are only towards parents who have shown the ability to act in the best interest of the child.
Regardless of whether a parent has custody or not, courts want to encourage healthy parent-child relationship. In situations where a parent’s or individual’s access to the child is an endangerment, Courts step in to protect the child.
Talk to a family attorney about retaining custody of your child.