If you are facing or have underwent the stress and drama of a divorce with children involved, then you have likely heard the phrase, in the best interest of the child. In fact, you may have heard it more than you wanted to.
The best interest of the child is the factor that is used here in Texas, and increasingly in other states as well. To which we say “of course it is”. Ultimately we all want to agree, at least fundamentally or on paper, that the right thing is to do what is best for the children.
But what does a sentiment like that actually mean? How is “what is best” determined? Especially when the parties involved may have strikingly different views of what that best may look like.
The truth is that there is no standard definition of best interest. Nor could there be. The extenuating circumstances surrounding each individual child and their well-being are just that…….individual. While in one household split custody is a perfect arrangement and fits the “best” description, in another household the opposite could be true. There is no way to standardize it.
Instead a series of guiding principals and factors are utilized to attempt to determine this on a case by case basis. Although there are variations between states, some standards are pretty much guaranteed to be considered. Like these:
• The capacity of the parents to provide adequate resource for the child.
• The health and wellness of the parents being considered.
• The physical and mental needs of the child.
• The presence of domestic violence within the home.
If the parents involved cannot come to an agreement that suits both parties, or if there is suspicion or allegations of abuse an investigation may be ordered by the courts. This may involve social workers, psychologists, family court advisors, and other agencies that can help provide compelling evidence.
Here Are Three Key Factors That You May Want To Consider In Regard To Your Child Custody Case:
- Unless abuse can be proved, both parents will have some sort of rights of visitation granted. The amount of time and the frequency will depend upon the circumstances, but parents are not kept from their children unless they are a danger to them. The same goes with child support. The parent who is considered the non-custodial parent will be expected to make some kind of financial contribution. Do your best to make peace with this and you will have an easier time navigating the bumpy road that is child custody.
- The courts and the judge have a lot of leeway to make choices and their decisions have a lot to do with the evidence they are privy to. As much as it may pain you to do so, keeping a journal of EVERYTHING that transpires between you and your ex is a good way of showing said evidence in the event that it comes up. Although not fool proof, it has a possibility of providing you leverage when you need it most.
- As much as you may hate the other person try to remember that the children still love them, and will have to choose between the two of you if you cannot find common ground to negotiate upon. Seeking counseling services and support groups that can help you deal with your personal feelings is a good way to be the best parent that you can to your child. Think about it. What would you want your parents to do?
For any person who has undergone or is facing such an experience it can be very scary, emotional, and painful. This can be compounded by the difficulty you may be facing with your own feelings involving the divorce. It cannot be understated here how important having good counsel in the way of a solid child custody attorney at this time is. But it is also important that you keep your head and work to make good decisions that are ultimately, dare we repeat it, in the best interest of the child.
About The Author:
Gary Warren is a family law attorney in the Dallas area with the law firm Warren &Migliaccio, L.L.P. A native of Garland, TX, Gary completed his undergraduate studies at Texas Tech, and then attended the Thomas M. Cooley School of Law in Lansing, MI. After law school, he returned to North Texas and currently practices divorce and child custody case law. Gary enjoys American history, the Texas Rangers, Dallas Stars, Mavericks, and Cowboys, and teaching Sunday School with his wife and high school sweetheart of 19 years.