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What is Meant by the Best Interests of the Child Standard?

No matter how contentious a divorce becomes, the parties are expected to abide by the public policy of the state of Texas requiring them to always act with the best interests of their child or children in mind. The courts apply the best interests of the child standard to issues such as custody, support and visitation by the non-custodial spouse.

Over the years, the courts have gradually shifted toward eliminating the presumption that the mother is to be the favored custodial parent. This is true particularly with regard to infants and those young children who often were referred to as those of tender years. Effort is being made to treat parents equally so that the child can benefit from parenting by both parties. It is presumed to be in a child’s best interest to have parenting from both mother and father.

The problem with the best interests of the child standard is that it is a subjective standard that is far from clear. The standard gives a great deal of leeway to the court. This can lead to widely disparate decisions. One of the ways the law attempts to put controls on the definition of a child’s best interests is by use of factors that can be used to help the court make its decision. Some factors include:

  • Preferences of the child (depending on level of maturity)
  • Age of the child
  • Parenting abilities of the parents
  • Physical and emotional needs of the child

An experienced family law attorney can explain how the best interests of the child standard may apply to your situation.

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Robert Reid McInvale
Attorney at Law

Robert Reid McInvale is an experienced family law attorney with a comprehensive practice in Houston. He provides dedicated and strong advocacy for his clients, helping them with all the issues surrounding their divorce, separation, child custody, and other marriage and family matters. Attorney McInvale—Reid to clients and friends—seemed destined for a law career. Born while his father was attending Emory University Law School, Reid grew up in Manchester, GA. His father was the city attorney for many years, as well as head of the Manchester Chamber of Commerce. It is in the family blood to become lawyers and help people get justice. U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall is part of the McInvale family tree.

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