The Scholar: St. Mary's Law Review on Race and Social Justice


Raymon Zapata


Texas courts should not apply the best interest standard established in Holley v. Adams to all child custody disputes because it is not a one-size-fits all approach. In Holley, a parental rights termination case, the Texas Supreme Court listed factors to consider when evaluating the best interest of the child. These factors, however, do not adequately address all the issues in a child custody case. Additionally, specific factors including parent’s wishes, religion, race, or the parents' sexual preference are not considered Holley factors. Another significant problem with relying on Holley is that judges are not required to address each factor in a case. As a result, judges have used their discretion to subjectively select which factors it considers relevant when ruling. Judges, therefore, should be mandated to consider each factor and provide a detailed explanation of their analysis concerning each factor. Although the Holley factors are a significant improvement from previous doctrines concerning child custody disputes, Holley is still not the most appropriate standard. Either the legislature or the judiciary should adopt similar factors to those in Section 263.307 of the Texas Family Code. Additionally, courts should be mandated to consider the parents’ wishes as to their child’s best interest. Ideally, the best interest of the child standard should include the following factors: emotional ties between the parents and the child; parenting skills of both parents; parents' wishes as to the child's custody; and interrelationship of the child with his parents, siblings, and any other individual who significantly affects the child's best interest.

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St. Mary's University School of Law



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