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Protecting Children's Best Interests in Divorce: Legal Standards in Plano, Texas

Divorce can be a difficult and emotional process for everyone involved, especially for any children of the marriage. It is important to remember that the best interests of the child should always be a top priority when making decisions about custody, visitation, and support arrangements. In Plano, Texas, there are legal standards in place to ensure that children are protected during divorce proceedings.

Understanding the Best Interest Standard

What exactly does it mean to act in the best interests of a child during a divorce? The best interest standard is a legal concept that considers a variety of factors to determine what is best for the child in question. Ultimately, the goal is to create arrangements that promote the child's health, safety, and overall well-being.

Definition of the Best Interest Standard

In Plano, Texas, the best interest standard is defined by the Texas Family Code. According to this code, the best interest of the child should always be the primary concern of the court during any legal proceedings that involve that child. The code outlines a number of specific factors that should be considered when determining what is in the child's best interest.

Factors Considered in Determining the Best Interest

Some of the factors that the court might consider when determining the best interest of a child include:

  • The child's emotional and physical needs
  • The ability of both parents to care for the child
  • The child's relationship with each parent
  • The child's preferences (if the child is old enough to express them)
  • The child's overall adjustment to their current living situation

These are just a few examples of the many factors that might be taken into account during a best interest analysis. The court will carefully consider each case on an individual basis to determine what is in the child's best interest.

The Role of the Court in Applying the Standard

It is important to note that the court is responsible for applying the best interest standard during any legal proceedings related to a child. This means that the court will be the final decision-maker when it comes to issues related to custody, visitation, and child support. The court will carefully review all evidence presented by both parties before making a ruling.

Child Custody and Visitation Arrangements

Creating a custody and visitation arrangement that is in the best interest of the child is a key part of any divorce proceeding. There are several different types of custody arrangements that may be considered in Plano, Texas.

Types of Child Custody in Texas

In Texas, there are two main types of custody arrangements: joint custody and sole custody. Joint custody means that both parents share decision-making responsibilities regarding their child. Sole custody means that one parent has the right to make all major decisions regarding the child.

Creating a Parenting Plan

Once a custody arrangement has been determined, parents will need to create a parenting plan that outlines the specific details of the arrangement. This plan will typically include information about things like where the child will live, how much time they will spend with each parent, and how major decisions will be made.

Modifying Custody and Visitation Orders

It is important to remember that custody and visitation orders may be modified in the future if circumstances change. For example, if one parent moves to a new state or country, it may be necessary to modify the visitation schedule. Both parents will need to agree to any modifications, or the court will need to be petitioned to make changes.

Child Support Obligations

In addition to custody and visitation arrangements, child support obligations also play an important role in protecting the best interests of the child. Child support ensures that the child's financial needs are being met after the divorce is final.

Calculating Child Support in Texas

The amount of child support ordered will depend on a variety of factors, including the income of both parents, the number of children involved, and any special needs the child may have. Texas has established guideline percentages that courts typically use when determining child support amounts.

Enforcing Child Support Orders

If a parent fails to pay child support as ordered, there are legal options available to enforce the order. The court can take steps such as garnishing the parent's wages, suspending their driver's license, or even placing them in jail for contempt of court.

Modifying Child Support Payments

Like custody and visitation arrangements, child support payments may also be modified in the future if circumstances change. For example, if a parent loses their job or experiences a significant change in income, they may be able to petition the court for a modification in child support payments.

The Role of Mediation in Divorce

Mediation can be a useful tool for parents who are going through a divorce and want to work together to create arrangements that are in the best interest of their child.

Benefits of Mediation for Children

Mediation can help parents to maintain a more positive relationship with each other, which can be beneficial for the child involved. It can also help to reduce the overall level of conflict and stress associated with the divorce process.

The Mediation Process

During mediation, a neutral third party will help the parents to work through any issues related to custody, visitation, or child support. Both parents will need to agree to any decisions made during mediation, and any agreements will need to be approved by the court before they become legally binding.

Choosing a Mediator in Plano, Texas

If you are considering mediation, it is important to choose a mediator who is experienced and knowledgeable in family law matters. Look for a mediator who has a strong track record of success and who is committed to helping families create arrangements that are in the best interest of the child.


Protecting the best interests of children is a top priority during any divorce proceeding in Plano, Texas. By understanding the best interest standard, creating a thoughtful custody and visitation arrangement, ensuring child support obligations are met, and utilizing mediation when appropriate, parents can work together to create a positive outcome for their child.

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