Is a child custody fight in your future? Here is information you need to get ready for your Texas child custody social study. Knowing what needs to be done to get ready for your Texas child custody social study is important. In this fourth part of a 7 part blog learn what you need to do to get ready for your Texas child custody social study
What is the Standard that the Evaluator will be Using in Making Recommendations to the Court?
In a child custody evaluation, the child’s interests and well-being are paramount. Parents competing for custody, as well as others, may have legitimate concerns, but the child’s best interests must prevail. The 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.” Thus, all orders regarding the conservatorship, possession and access of the children are based on this “the best interest of the child” standard. If the parties are unable to agree on the issues of conservatorship, possession and access, the Court will make its rulings on these issues based on the children’s best interests, not the interests of anyone else.
What Does “Best Interests of the Children Mean”?
While the Texas Family Code does not define the term “best interest of the children”, it is generally understood to encompass the following rights of children:
Children have the right to have a continuing relationship with both parents without interference or manipulation.
Children have the right to be safe and secure, and protected from abuse and neglect.
Children need to not be seen as a piece of property, but as a human being recognized to have unique feelings, ideas, and desires consistent with that of an individual.
Children need to have continuing care and proper guidance from each parent or party.
Children need to not be unduly influenced by any party to view another party differently.
Children need to have the freedom to express love, friendship, and respect for each party.
Children need an explanation that the impending action of divorce was in no way caused by the child’s actions.
Children need to not be the subject and/or source of any and all arguments between the parties.
Children need to maintain regular contact with both parents and a clear explanation for any change in plans and/or cancellations.
Children need their parents to be supportive of their relationships with the other party and the time spent with that other party.
What Factors will the Evaluator look at to Determine the Children’s Best Interest?
To determine what is in the best interests of the children, the evaluator may look at the following types of factors:
The age and developmental stage of each child.
The sex of each child and each party’s sensitivity to the child’s need for appropriate gender-role-models, as well as the quality of each party’s relationship with the child.
Social, marital and parenting histories of each party.
Age and health of each child and the parties with reference to any special needs or problems.
The wishes of the children’s parent or parents.
Preferences of the children regarding custody and possession.
The children’s relationship to his/her home, school, and community.
The mental and physical health of all parties involved.
Interests and activities of each child and the role of each party in encouraging and developing such interests.
Demonstrated capacity of each party to foster the growth and development of each child and to understand the individual needs of the child.
Each party’s demonstrated ability to provide continuity and stability of environment for the child.
Relationship and attachments of each child to his or her parents, siblings and any other persons who may have a significant effect upon the child.
Demonstrated capacity of each of the parties to support an ongoing relationship between the children and the other parent.
Parental alienation and its origins and meaning.
Educational plans for the child and the appropriateness of these plans in regard to the child’s educational history and needs.
The work schedules of the parties.
The financial situation of each party.
Styles of parenting and discipline.
Ability to resolve conflicts with the other party.
Social support systems.