Book an appointment using SetMore

Child Custody in Texas: Factors Considered by the Courts

Divorce is one of the hardest things anyone faces and its effects extend beyond just the divorcees. When parents divorce or separate, one of the most challenging and emotional issues to resolve is child custody. Because of the stress that comes with it, emotional and physical, it is necessary for divorcees to understand their rights and options when it comes to custody arrangements. The professionals at the Law Office of Bryan Fagan understand this and are here to help you navigate the intricacies of child custody.

Like anywhere else, when it comes to child custody cases in Texas, the courts make custody decisions based on the best interests of the child, considering a range of factors that can impact their well-being. There are two main types of custody in Texas: physical custody and legal custody. Physical custody refers to where the child lives and who takes care of them on a daily basis. Legal custody, on the other hand, refers to the right to make important decisions about the child's upbringing, such as education, religion and medical care.

Within physical and legal custody, there are different subtypes of custody that parents may be awarded by a court; including sole custody, joint custody and split custody. Sole custody is when one parent has complete physical and legal custody of the child, with the other parent having limited or no rights. Joint custody is when both parents share physical and/or legal custody of the child and split custody is when siblings are divided between the parents, with each parent having sole physical custody of at least one child.

Factors Considered by Texas Courts in Custody Decisions

As mentioned, when determining custody, Texas courts consider what is in the best interest of the child. This means they will consider several factors, including the child's emotional and physical needs, the parent's abilities to provide for those needs, the stability of each parent's home and the child's relationship with each parent. Here are some of the key factors Texas courts consider when determining child custody:

  1. Child's Wishes

Depending on the age and maturity of the child, Texas courts may consider the child's wishes when making child custody decisions. The Texas Family Code states that the court may interview a child in chambers to determine the child's wishes if the child is 12 years of age or older, or if the child is younger than 12 but is of sufficient age and maturity to express a preference. It's important to note the child's preference is just one factor the court considers when making custody decisions. The court will also consider other factors, such as the child's emotional and physical needs, the parent's abilities to provide for those needs, the stability of each parent's home and the child's relationship with each parent.

In some cases, Texas courts may also grant 50-50 child custody. Otherwise called joint managing conservatorship, it refers to a custody arrangement in which both parents share decision-making responsibilities for the child and have approximately equal amounts of parenting time. If both parents are fit and able to provide for the child's needs and a 50-50 custody arrangement would be in the child's best interest, then the court may award joint managing conservatorship to both parents.

  1. Parent-Child Relationship

The parent-child relationship is one of the many factors courts consider when determining what is in the best interest of the child. The court will look at the history and nature of the relationship between each parent and the child, including the child's emotional ties to each parent, the parent's involvement in the child's life and the parent's ability to meet the child's physical, emotional and developmental needs. The court will also consider any factors that could affect the parent-child relationship, such as a parent's work schedule, substance abuse issues or involvement in criminal activity.

Overall, the parent-child relationship is an important factor in child custody decisions in Texas. Courts aim to make decisions that will promote and protect the child's relationship with both parents, as long as it is in the child's best interest to do so.

  1. Parental Fitness

Parental fitness refers to a parent's ability to provide for a child's physical and emotional needs, as well as their ability to maintain a stable and healthy home environment. Texas courts will examine each parent's ability to care for the child, including factors such as their mental and physical health, lifestyle and history of abuse or neglect.

However, Texas does not give preferential treatment to either parent when it comes to custody decisions. Historically, Texas courts considered the mothers’ right to child custody and mothers were often granted primary custody of children in divorce and custody cases, this is no longer the case in Texas. Courts consider each case's unique circumstances and decide in the child's best interest, regardless of the parent's gender. Therefore, the mother's right to custody is not automatically given priority over the father's right to custody in Texas. Instead, both parents have an equal opportunity to present evidence and arguments to support their claim to custody and the court will make a decision based on the best interest of the child.

  1. Co-Parenting Ability

If both parents are seeking custody, the court will examine their ability to co-parent effectively, including their willingness to communicate and work together in the best interests of their child. In such cases, one of the factors courts consider is the ability of each parent to encourage and foster a positive relationship between the child and the other parent. This means a parent's ability to co-parent effectively and communicate with the other parent is an important consideration for the court. If one parent is found to be uncooperative or unwilling to work with the other parent, this could negatively impact their chances of obtaining custody.

  1. Violence and Adultery

Domestic violence is one of the most serious and significant factors a court will consider when making a custody determination. If a parent has a history of domestic violence or abuse, the court might consider them a danger to the child and may be hesitant to award them custody or unsupervised visitation. The court will consider the severity and frequency of the abuse, as well as any evidence of ongoing violence or threats. The court can order supervised visitation or require the abusive parent to complete counseling or other programs before being granted custody or visitation. In some cases, the court can even completely terminate a parent's parental rights if they are found to be a danger to the child. The court can also order a temporary restraining order on the defaulting parent in severe cases.

On the other hand, if one parent committed adultery, it could reflect their character and judgment, which could impact their ability to provide a stable and safe environment for the child. However, the court will also consider other factors, such as the parent's relationship with the child, their ability to provide for the child's emotional and physical needs and any history of domestic violence or abuse.

Understanding the factors Texas courts consider when making child custody decisions can help parents prepare for their case and make informed decisions about their child's future. Parents can increase their chances of obtaining a favorable custody outcome by working with an experienced family law attorney at the Law Office of Bryan Fagan and presenting a strong case.

Other Related Articles

  1. A Tale of Two Parents: Enforcing Child Custody Orders in Texas

  2. Managing High-Conflict Custody Cases in Texas: A Step-By-Step Guide

  3. A Rollercoaster Ride of Emotions: Navigating Temporary and Emergency Custody Orders in Texas

  4. Military Families and Child Custody Challenges in Texas: A Comprehensive Guide

  5. Children with Special Needs and Custody Arrangements in Texas: A Comprehensive Guide

  6. Preparing for Your Child Custody Hearing Texas

  7. Navigating the Texas-sized Challenges: A Comprehensive Guide to Relocation and Child Custody Modifications

  8. Understanding Texas Child Custody: A Parent's Guide to Sole, Joint, and Split Conservatorship

  9. Introduction to Texas Child Custody Laws

  10. How Much Does a Custody Lawyer Cost in Texas?

  11. Understanding Texas Child Custody

Frequently Asked Questions about Child Custody in Texas

  • What factors does a Texas court consider when making a child custody decision?

    A Texas court considers several factors when making a child custody decision, including the child's emotional and physical needs, the ability of each parent to provide for the child's needs, any history of domestic violence or child abuse, and the child's preferences if they are old enough to express them.

  • How is child custody determined in Texas?

    Child custody in Texas can be determined through an agreement between the parents or by a court order. If the parents cannot agree on a custody arrangement, a court will make a decision based on the best interests of the child.

  • What are the types of child custody in Texas?

    The types of child custody in Texas include sole managing conservatorship (which gives one parent primary custody and decision-making authority), joint managing conservatorship (which allows both parents to share decision-making authority), and possessory conservatorship (which gives a non-custodial parent visitation rights).

  • Can a child choose which parent to live with in Texas?

    In Texas, a child's preferences are taken into account when determining custody, but the child cannot make the final decision. The court will consider the child's preferences along with other factors to make a custody determination.

  • Can child custody orders be modified in Texas?

    Yes, child custody orders can be modified in Texas if there has been a significant change in circumstances since the original order was issued. Examples of significant changes include a parent's relocation or a change in the child's needs.

Fill Out To Watch Now!

  • Please enter your first name.
  • Please enter your last name.
  • Please enter your phone number.
    This isn't a valid phone number.
  • Please enter your email address.
    This isn't a valid email address.
  • Please make a selection.
  • Please enter a message.