If you’re involved in a divorce or custody case, you’ve likely heard the phrase “best interest of the child”. Best interest refers to keeping the needs of a child front and center during a court proceeding to create and encourage the best possible outcome for that child or children.
The state of Texas has taken the concept of “best interest” seriously and outlined certain rights for children in a “Children’s Bill of Rights.”
Texas recognizes that parents may not always make the right choices regarding their kids and has therefore outlined what’s best for kids in this document. Most well-meaning parents put the needs of their children first, but sometimes the high emotion and conflict in a divorce can cloud what’s important. The Bill of Rights helps to protect parent-child relationships and makes the needs of kids a priority.
Highlights of the Children’s Bill of Rights
The Children’s Bill of Rights is comprehensive and covers many topics with its 31 bullet points, but here are some of the expectations:
- A child will not be denied access to the other parent by phone.
- Healthy communication only. Among other things-no negative comments about the other parent, no efforts to influence or pressure a child and no judgments about the other parent.
- Discussions about child support or legal matters and any arguments are to take place out of earshot of the children.
- Parents must provide a safe living environment and no smoking is allowed in the presence of the child.
- The child has the right to display memorabilia from or about the other parent.
- The child has the right to bring items back and forth, including gifts from the other parent.
- Parents shall make every effort to cooperate with the other.
- A child will not be the messenger of information between parents.
These rules apply not only to the parents of the child but to any other adult involved with the children including the grandparents, the nanny or any extended family.
The court will do everything in its power to protect and promote the best interest of children by considering their health, safety and general well-being first when making decisions. The Children’s Bill of Rights serves as a good reminder that the needs of children should always be first.