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"Best interests of the child" for determining child custody

Child custody often becomes a major bone of contention for estranged parents. Texas child custody matters are brought to family court for assessment either during separation of parents by divorce or in cases where the child is born to unmarried parents. In Texas, and elsewhere, a court usually determines child custody issues by determining the "best interest of the child."

In some cases, one of the biological parents appears to serve the best interests of the child in regard to child custody. In most current cases, biological parents who have been previously married usually opt for joint legal and physical custody. Visitation rights are also further decided by the court in cases where sole custody is sought by either biological parent.

In some rare cases, both biological parents are deemed to be unfit to parent by the court. Such harsh determination may be assessed on the basis of either biological parent being judged to be mentally unfit, incarcerated or charged for child assault or abuse. In such cases, the court may find that the best interest of the child is best served by staying with biological relatives instead of the parents. Grandparents, aunts, uncles or other family members may then voluntarily seek child custody.

Determination of the best interest of the child is a qualitative assessment with no specific checklist. Thus, it may come down to either parents or family members to establish that the best interest of the child is served by staying with them. In such cases, most find it beneficial to get professional legal help in order to traverse the legal grapevine to produce the requisite documentation needed to determine child custody.

Source: ChildWelfare.org, "Determining the best interest of the child," Accessed on Dec. 12, 2014

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