The “best interest of the child” is a standard applied in family courts nationwide. Despite its widespread usage, there is no clear definition, creating gaps in the standard and leaving Texas courts to apply imprecise opinions in cases involving family separations.

Key points

  • The “best interest of the child” is a legal standard applied in nearly every court action involving children.
  • Despite its importance, there is no standard definition or consistent guidance on how the best interest standard is applied.
  • In the absence of such guidance, Texas statutory and case law have combined to create a confusing patchwork of factors for courts to apply in best interest decisions.
  • Ambiguity in the best interest of the child standard jeopardizes the fundamental right parents and children are guaranteed in their relationship with one another.