When it comes to divorces between parents, there is a guiding principle the courts must use when determining issues such as custody and visitation. This principle is known as the “best interest of the child.” The courts have the sole power to determine the best interest of the child in Austin depending on the facts of the case. Therefore, the court has final say when it comes to your parental rights. Thankfully, an experienced custody attorney could answer all of your questions and guide you through this process.
State law gives the court great discretion when making decisions about the well-being of a child. However, there are some factors that typically guide a judge when making this determination.
Physical and Emotional Needs
One of the most crucial aspects that Austin courts consider when determining a child’s best interests is their physical and emotional needs. Physical and emotional needs could involve access to proper emotional support, appropriate medical care, or other basic needs. These needs will vary depending on the child’s age as well as their development. In addition to considering their current needs, the court must also think about the future as well.
Part of determining a child’s needs is taking their wishes into account. However, the court is only obligated to listen to the child’s opinion on custody when they are 12 years of age or older. Even then, a judge is not obligated to agree with the child’s preferences.
Safe and Stable Environment
A safe and stable home environment is a major priority in determining a child’s best interests in an Austin case. Stability helps ensure a child’s well-being and gives them the best opportunity to thrive. In the context of a divorce or custody case, judges may look for stability in housing, employment, and child care. The more unstable a parent’s living situation, the less likely they are to secure custody. Constant changes with employment or romantic partners could also be problematic. The court also considers the aspects of a parent-child relationship that could be potentially harmful to the minor. This includes reviewing a parent’s criminal record, prior accusations of domestic violence, or history of drug abuse.
A judge may also take into account each parent’s involvement in the child’s life. This can vary significantly from one family to another. For example, some parents equally share the daily responsibility of caring for the child. In other families, a single parent may be largely responsible for the primary care of the child.
The court typically gives preference to parents who were primarily involved in a child’s upbringing. This could include the parent that takes the children to school, helps them with their homework, or attends parent-teacher conferences.
Community Factors in Determining the Child’s Best Interests
Extended can family play a part in custody determinations. The courts typically work to ensure a child is surrounded by as much extended family as possible. This community could provide valuable support to both parents. However, some parents may have to relocate away from their support network for work. The courts prioritize proximity to a child’s community, but it is only one factor they consider when determining the best interest of a child in Austin.
Speak with an Austin Attorney About the Determining a Child’s Best Interests
Your attorney could help you show the court that it is in your child’s best interest for you to part a part of their life. Meeting this standard is never easy, but the right legal counsel could make the difference in your case. Reach out today to learn more about determining the best interest of a child in Austin.