If you are a parent who is going through divorce, one of your biggest concerns may be about child custody, also called conservatorship. As you have begun researching the process for determining conservatorship, you have probably come across the best interest standard, since the process for determining conservatorship is reliant on this standard.

For example, parents are encouraged to work together to determine conservatorship, but a Texas court will not approve conservatorship arrangements that are not in a child’s best interests. Also, if a court must decide for parents what conservatorship arrangement is most appropriate, the child’s best interests will be the standard used to make that decision. Because the best interest standard is so important to conservatorship decisions, it can be beneficial to understand what factors a court may consider when evaluating what your child’s best interests are.

Many factors contribute to best interests

A court can consider any relevant factor when determining a child’s best interests. However, several factors that are often considered, include:

  • Each parent’s ability to prioritize the child’s welfare
  • Each parent’s ability to collaborate to reach decisions to benefit the child
  • Each parent’s ability to support the child’s relationship with the other parent
  • How each parent participated in child rearing before the divorce
  • How close the parents’ homes are to each other
  • The child’s preference, if the child is at least 12 years old
  • The child’s physical, psychological and emotional needs

Courts often award joint managing conservatorship because it is generally in a child’s best interest to maintain a positive relationship with both parents after the parents’ divorce. However, a child’s health and safety is a priority, so in situations that include a history of domestic violence, a court may favor sole managing conservatorship instead.

Regardless of who makes conservatorship decisions, your child’s best interests will ultimately determine what conservatorship arrangement is awarded. An understanding of the factors a court may consider relevant to your child’s best interests can help you better advocate for a conservatorship arrangement that meets your child’s needs.