To understand how child custody is determined in Texas, it is important to bring up the different types of child custody first. Child custody consists of two types: physical custody and legal custody. Texas often refers to physical custody as possession and access and legal custody, or anything associated with legal custody rights, as conservatorship. There are two types of conservatorships: sole custody and joint custody.
The court prefers to see both parents’ involvement in their child’s life, so it is common to see joint managing conservatorships awarded, granting both parents possession and access. This will differ if the court finds doing so would place the child in imminent danger.
Texas Child Custody: The Court’s Influence
Texas courts presume parents will want to share parental rights and duties. These duties do not need to be shared equally, but it is advisable to split them up in a fair manner. If you are going through a divorce and cannot agree on a child custody arrangement through mediation or another form of alternative dispute resolution, you will need to go to court and have a judge make this determination for you and your family.
After a psychological evaluation, a child age 12 years or older can sign an affidavit declaring his/her preferences regarding a potential child custody arrangement. However, the court is the ultimate authority figure and does not necessarily have to follow these wishes.
Factors Impacting Child Custody Orders
Texas judges can grant, modify, or remove child custody as well as limit the amount of time or access a parent has with their child. The main factor the courts refer to before deciding anything regarding a child custody, or visitation arrangement is to consider the child’s best interests. The child’s safety as well as both parents’ ability to provide a loving and nurturing home for the child will be some of the initial factors that impact this decision. Other factors the court will take into consideration include:
The child’s relationship with each parent.
The child’s preferences (if at least 12 years of age)
The health, safety, and welfare of the child.
Each parent’s efforts to continue the child’s contact with the other parent.
The mental and physical health of each parent.
The relative distance between parental households.
Each parent’s financial wellbeing.
Any history of substance abuse or domestic violence.
While it is safe to say both parents will have a say regarding what constitutes their child’s best interests, it is best to keep the child’s wellbeing in mind first and foremost.
Contact Our Office To Get Started On Your Case
Child custody cases can be contentious when emotions run high; however, the legal counsel of an experienced and capable lawyer can help settle the issues at hand. For help establishing, modifying, or enforcing a child custody order, get in touch with our firm. We provide compassionate, tailored family law services for families in Austin and surrounding areas.
If you need assistance navigating your child custody case, contact us online or give us a call at (737) 265-7656 to speak with an experienced, compassionate attorney.