Three Divisions. One Firm.
Countless lives changed.
holley-factors-1

What are the Holley Factors in Texas Parental Termination?

Understanding the Holley Factors in Texas Parental Termination Cases

In Texas, a parent can have their parental rights terminated, but this is a serious matter that judges take extremely seriously. To guide them in their decision, the court must consider the “best interests of the child.

For guidance, they turn to the “Holley Factors” – a set of criteria established in the 1976 Texas Supreme Court case, Holley v. Adams, which are used to determine the best interests of the child in parental termination proceedings.

Holley factors in Texas parental termination cases provide a framework for judges to use while weighing their decisions. In this article, the experienced attorneys at Varghese Summersett Family Law Group explain the origin of the Holley Factors in Texas parental termination cases and how Texas courts use them to determine whether or not to terminate a parent’s rights.

holley factors in parental termination cases

Background and History of Holley v. Adams

Holley v. Adams, 544 S.W.2d 367, 371–72 (Tex. 1976), is a landmark case in Texas family law that established the Holley factors in Texas parental termination cases.

In that case, David Adams attempted to have the parental rights terminated for the mother of his son, Nanci Holley, who he had divorced. Adams wanted his second wife to have custody in the event that he died, not the child’s biological mother. The Texas Supreme Court found there wasn’t significant evidence supporting the termination of the rights of the child’s mother.

Additionally, the court found that termination was not in the best interest of the child. The “best interest” standard is the reason this case is important. The court recognized the need to create a list of factors to help determine the best interests of the child in parental termination cases. (See the list below.)

The Court also held that its list of standards for what constitutes the best interest of the child is not exhaustive.

Holley Factors: Best Interests of the Child

The Holley factors in parental termination cases are a list of considerations the court uses to determine the best interests of the child. These factors include:

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

These factors are used in conjunction with Texas child custody law to determine the outcome of parental termination cases. The “Holley factors” and “best interests of the child” are related but not identical.

The “best interest of the child” is a legal principle used in family law cases that concern children, including matters of custody, visitation, and parental rights termination. The “best interest” concept asserts that courts should always prioritize the welfare and well-being of the child over any other considerations.

The “Holley factors” are a specific set of considerations created by the Texas Supreme Court in the case Holley v. Adams to guide the determination of what is in the “best interest of the child.” They serve as a framework for the court to analyze the circumstances of the child and the parent(s) to make a decision that will best serve the child’s overall well-being.

In essence, the Holley factors are a tool used to define and determine the best interests of the child in the context of Texas law. Other jurisdictions might have similar factors or different factors altogether to ascertain the best interests of the child.
voluntarily terminate parental rights

Grounds for Terminating Parental Rights in Texas

Involuntary termination of parental rights occurs when the court finds that it is in the best interest of the child to terminate a parent’s rights. The grounds for involuntary termination are outlined in Texas Family Code Section 161.

The code provides a list of specific circumstances under which a parent’s rights may be terminated involuntarily. Here’s a breakdown of the grounds:

Abandonment

The parent has voluntarily left the child alone or with another person without providing adequate support or expressing an intent to return.

Endangerment

The parent has engaged in conduct or knowingly placed the child with someone who engages in conduct that endangers the physical or emotional well-being of the child.

Failure to support

The parent has failed to support the child in accordance with the parent’s ability for at least one year.

Failure to maintain contact

The parent has failed to maintain regular contact with the child for at least six months without demonstrating an adequate excuse.

Voluntary, informed, and irrevocable affidavit of relinquishment

The parent has signed an affidavit relinquishing parental rights and responsibilities, and this relinquishment is in the best interests of the child.

Child’s living environment

The parent has allowed the child to live in an environment that endangers the child’s physical or emotional well-being.

Parental abuse or neglect

The parent has abused or neglected the child, which may include physical, emotional, or sexual abuse, or has knowingly placed the child with a person who has abused or neglected the child.

Criminal conduct

The parent has been convicted of a crime related to the abuse or neglect of the child, or the parent has been convicted of a crime that resulted in the child’s removal from the parent’s custody.

Murder or voluntary manslaughter of another child

The parent has been convicted of the murder or voluntary manslaughter of another child or has aided, attempted, conspired, or solicited to commit such a crime.

Termination of rights to another child

The parent has had their parental rights to another child terminated involuntarily on the basis of findings that the parent’s conduct endangered the well-being of the child.

Inability to care for the child

The parent is unable to provide a safe environment for the child due to substance abuse, mental illness, or other factors that affect the parent’s ability to care for the child.

Failure to comply with court orders

The parent has failed to comply with court-ordered provisions of a child placement agreement or service plan that specifically outlines the actions necessary for the parent to regain custody of the child.

Abandonment of a child under age one

The parent has abandoned the child, who is under one year old, without identifying the child or providing support.

Child in foster care

The child has been in the care of a non-parental custodian for a specific period (usually 6 months to 1 year), and the parent has not demonstrated a willingness or ability to provide a safe and stable environment for the child.

These grounds for involuntary termination of parental rights are not exhaustive, and the court may consider other factors when determining if termination is in the best interests of the child.

These are complex legal matters, and it is essential to consult with our experienced family law attorneys to understand the termination process.

The Aftermath of Parental Rights Termination

After parental rights have been terminated, a child may be placed for adoption or foster care. More information about the adoption process can be found on our adoption page. There is also the potential for appeal or reinstatement of parental rights in certain situations.

Facing a Child Custody Case? Contact Us.

If you are embroiled in a child custody case in which parental termination is being sought, we urge you to consult with one of the skilled family law attorneys at Varghese Summersett Family Law Group. Our team has decades of combined experience fighting for clients during what is often a very tumultuous time in their lives.

To schedule a consultation with one of our family law attorneys, call us at 817-900-3220 or contact us online.

we measure our success by yours

FAQ: What You Need To Know About Texas’ Holley Factors

What are the Holley factors in Texas Family Law cases?

The Holley factors are a list of considerations used by Texas courts to determine the best interests of the child in parental termination cases. They were established in the Holley v. Adams case in 1976.

Why are the Holley factors in parental termination cases important?

The Holley factors help the court determine if terminating a parent’s rights is in the best interest of the child. They provide a guideline for assessing factors such as the child’s desires, the emotional and physical needs of the child, and the stability of the proposed home environment.

Do courts always use the Holley factors in Texas parental termination cases?

Texas courts are required to consider the Holley factors when making decisions about parental termination cases. However, each case is unique, and the weight given to each factor may vary depending on the specific circumstances.

What happens after parental rights are terminated in Texas?

Once parental rights have been terminated, the child may be placed for adoption or foster care. There is also the potential for appeal or reinstatement of parental rights in certain situations.

How does the court determine the best interests of the child in a parental termination case?

The court uses the Holley factors as a guideline to determine the best interests of the child. These factors help the court assess various aspects of the child’s life, such as their emotional and physical needs, the stability of the proposed home environment, and the parental abilities of the individuals seeking custody.

Are the Holley factors used only in involuntary termination cases?

While the Holley factors are most commonly associated with involuntary termination cases, they can also be considered in other child custody proceedings where the best interests of the child are in question.

Are the Holley factors used only in involuntary termination cases?

In some cases, it may be possible for a parent to regain their parental rights after termination. However, this typically requires the parent to demonstrate a significant change in circumstances and prove that reinstating their rights would be in the best interest of the child.

Do I need an attorney to navigate the parental termination process in Texas?

Given the complexity of parental termination cases and the lasting impact on both the parent and child, it is highly recommended to seek the guidance of our experienced family law attorneys at Varghese Summersett. Our skilled lawyers can help you navigate the termination process and advocate for your and your child’s best interests.

Related Articles
Close Icon
Reviews
About
Call
Schedule
Search
js_loader