In any divorce in Texas in which there are children involved, their best interests will be a primary concern of the court. In most cases, that’s also true of both parents. When a divorce is litigated, child custody will be decided by the court after careful consideration of many factors to determine what would be best for the children. Couples who choose divorce mediation will have that same responsibility as they negotiate child custody agreements.
How are the best interests of a child determined by a court? The court recognizes the fact that the dynamics of every family is different, and for this reason, the guidelines provide a broad standard with many factors that will be considered. The physical and mental health of each parent, including emotional stability will be a focal point; other potential issues include children with special needs or a parent with a history of domestic violence, criminal behavior or substance abuse. The financial ability of both parents is also relevant, as are the living conditions the child will be offered by each. Depending on the child’s age, some judges will also consider the preferences of the child.
When parents utilize the services of a qualified family law mediator, child custody and visitation issues will be addressed based upon would be best for the child. An experienced mediator can help parents reach a mutually satisfactory child custody agreement. He or she typically has extensive experience and can ensure that all material issues are addressed.
Texas parents who work together and who are able to compromise when necessary generally have an advantage over those who must rely upon a court to issue a custody order. To ensure fair treatment and the legality of the final child custody agreement, each party is entitled to be represented by his or her attorney during the mediation sessions. The attorneys can provide valuable input with regard to all contentious issues.
Source: The Huffington Post, “Divorce Confidential: Children And The ‘Best Interests’ Standard“, Caroline Choi, June 28, 2016