Determining the Best Interests of the Child - Texas

Date: September 2023

Guiding Principles

Citation: Family Code § 263.307(a)

In considering the factors established by this section, the prompt and permanent placement of the child in a safe environment is presumed to be in the child's best interests. 

Best Interests Factors

Citation: Family Code § 263.307(b)-(c)

The following factors should be considered in determining whether the child's parents are willing and able to provide the child with a safe environment:

  • The child's age and physical and mental vulnerabilities
  • The frequency and nature of out-of-home placements
  • The magnitude, frequency, and circumstances of the harm to the child
  • Whether the child has been the victim of repeated harm
  • Whether the child is fearful of living in or returning to the child's home
  • The results of psychiatric, psychological, or developmental evaluations of the child, the child's parents, or other family members
  • Whether there is a history of abusive or assaultive conduct by the child's family or others who have access to the child's home
  • Whether there is a history of substance abuse by the child's family or others who have access to the child's home
  • Whether the perpetrator of the harm to the child is identified
  • The willingness and ability of the child's family to seek out, accept, and complete counseling services and to cooperate with and facilitate an appropriate agency's close supervision
  • The willingness and ability of the child's family to effect positive environmental and personal changes within a reasonable period of time
  • Whether the child's family demonstrates adequate parenting skills, including providing the child and other children under the family's care with the following: 
    • Minimally adequate health and nutritional care
    • Care, nurturance, and appropriate discipline consistent with the child's physical and psychological development
    • Guidance and supervision consistent with the child's safety
    • A safe home environment
    • Protection from repeated exposure to violence even though the violence may not be directed at the child
    • An understanding of the child's needs and capabilities
  • Whether an adequate social support system consisting of an extended family and friends is available to the child

In the case of a child aged 16 or older, the following guidelines should be considered by the court in determining whether to adopt the permanency plan submitted by the Department of Family and Protective Services:

  • Whether the permanency plan submitted to the court includes the services planned for the child to make the transition from foster care to independent living 
  • Whether this transition is in the best interests of the child

Other Considerations

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.