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Top 20 Texas Family Law Cases: HOLLEY v. ADAMS

Top 20 Texas Family Law CasesCase 9: HOLLEY v. ADAMS.

Some of the most important cases for Texas divorce attorneys are custody related cases. Holley v. Adams deals with “the best interest” standard in Texas for children in custody cases.

The Best Interest Standard for Texas Divorce Cases

HOLLEY v. ADAMS, 544 S.W.2d 367 (Tex. 1976)

HOLLEY v. ADAMS Background

This was a termination case. In their divorce, David was granted custody of his son and Nanci was named a managing conservator but was not ordered to pay child support. The trial court ordered termination of the relationship between Nanci Holley and her son. The court of appeals affirmed.

During the trial, David testified that he brought the termination suit because if he had died, he thought it would be better for his wife (the child’s stepmother) to raise the child rather than Nanci (the biological mother).

The Court Decision

The Court concluded that there was not significant evidence supporting any termination grounds, and further, that termination was not in the best interest of the child.

Significance of Case

The significance of this case arises in the best interest discussion. The Court concluded that there was not enough evidence to support the termination factors. But what is of interest to most Texas family law cases, is the careful analysis of the “best interest” standard in Texas.

Factors to Consider in Determining Best Interest for Custody Cases

The Holley Court expressly upholds various lower court decisions and listed the following factors that courts should consider in determining best interest. These are commonly called the “Holley factors”.

Holley Factors

  • The desires of the child
  • The emotional and physical needs of the child now and in the future
  • The emotional and physical danger to the child now and in the future
  • The parental abilities of the individuals seeking custody
  • The programs available to assist these individuals to promote the best interest of the child
  • The plans for the child by these individuals or by the agency seeking custody
  • The stability of the home or proposed placement
  • The acts or omissions of the parent which may indicate that the existing parent-child relationship is not a proper one
  • Any excuse for the acts or omissions of a parent

The Court further held that the list above is “by no means exhaustive.” Significantly, even though this was a termination case, (which usually turns on statutory violations and not a best interest determination), the Court spent considerable effort in gathering appellate “best interest” cases and supported the rulings in each.

Top 20 Texas Family Law Cases: LENZ v. LENZ

The next significant case is Lenz v. Lenz. This case is the first that the Texas Supreme Court analyzed a custody relocation case.

Justin B. Morley

Mr. Morley primarily practices family law in New Braunfels TX.  He is Board Certified in Family Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, and a frequent writer and speaker on family law topics.  He  has experience in ...

Kristal Cordova Thomson

Ms. Thomson is a family law specialist, board certified in family law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. She focuses on divorces with complex or high net worth estates and complicated custody issues. Ms. Thomson has tried numerous cases, but is also highly experienced in negotiated settl...

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