The best interests of the child doctrine is the basis of any Standard Possession Order (SPO) or custody issue. As explained previously, all decisions during a divorce involving the children theoretically use the best interests of the children doctrine. Everyone seems to agree that it is a great way to approach co-parenting if the parents are no longer together. The disagreements often begin when each parent defines the child’s best interests differently – parents can adamantly disagree on this issue, which can lead to legal disputes in court.
How courts define it
Section 153.002, Texas Family Code, provides that “the best interest of the child shall always be the primary consideration of the court in determining the issues of conservatorship and possession of and access to the child.” To address this, the courts typically weigh such issues as:
- Fostering and encouraging the child’s happiness, well-being and security
- Maintaining a close and loving relationship with both parents when possible
- Facilitating the child’s emotional development into young adulthood
- The parents’ respective mental and physical health
- A child’s special and unique needs
- A stable home environment
- Religious and cultural considerations
Excepting the overriding priority of the child’s safety and happiness, the judge will likely take a holistic approach that considers several elements to determining the child’s bests interests.
Viewpoints will differ
The so-called “custody battle” is not a matter of a parent winning or losing. Instead, it is a matter of finding an arrangement that fits the child’s best interests while still upholding each parent’s legal rights. An experienced Texas Board-Certified Family Law expert attorney can often best help define their client’s point of view and find a workable solution for the entire family.