Divorce or separation can be an emotionally challenging time for families, particularly when it comes to determining custody arrangements for children. In Texas, like many other states, the welfare and best interests of the child are the primary considerations when deciding custody.
Understanding how Texas determines custody between parents is essential for those navigating the process. In this blog post, we will explore the key factors and guidelines that Texas follows in making custody determinations.
Legal Framework: The Best Interest of the Child
In Texas, the guiding principle for determining custody is the best interest of the child. The courts aim to ensure the child's physical, emotional, and mental well-being while promoting a stable and nurturing environment. Texas Family Code section 153.002 lists various factors that courts consider in determining the child's best interests.
Types of Custody in Texas
Texas recognizes two primary types of custody: conservatorship and possession and access.
Conservatorship refers to the legal rights and responsibilities of a parent. It encompasses decision-making authority regarding the child's upbringing, education, healthcare, and other important aspects of their life. Texas recognizes two types of conservatorship:
Sole Managing Conservatorship: In cases where one parent is granted sole managing conservatorship, they have exclusive rights and duties regarding the child's upbringing. The other parent, known as the possessory conservator, may have limited rights and visitation.
Joint Managing Conservatorship: Texas prefers joint managing conservatorship, promoting the involvement of both parents in decision-making. Joint managing conservatorship grants rights and responsibilities to both parents, although they may not always be equal.
Possession and Access
Possession and access refer to the visitation schedule and the time each parent spends with the child. Even if one parent is named the primary conservator, the other parent typically retains possession and access rights unless circumstances warrant a limitation.
Factors Considered by the Court
When determining custody, Texas courts consider several factors to determine the child's best interest. These may include:
- The child's emotional and physical needs
- Each parent's ability to meet those needs
- The child's preferences (considered for children aged 12 or older)
- The stability and safety of each parent's home environment
- The parents' ability to communicate and cooperate effectively
- Any history of family violence or abuse
- The child's relationships with siblings and other significant individuals
- The parents' mental and physical health
It's important to note that the court does not discriminate based on gender when considering custody arrangements.
Mediation and Parenting Plans
Texas encourages parents to resolve custody issues through mediation or negotiation, promoting a cooperative approach that minimizes conflict. If parents can reach an agreement regarding conservatorship and possession and access, the court will typically approve their parenting plan, provided it serves the child's best interests.
Court Intervention and the Role of Legal Professionals
If parents cannot agree on custody arrangements, the court will intervene and make a decision based on the child's best interest. In such cases, it's advisable for each parent to seek the guidance of an experienced family law attorney who can provide legal representation and navigate the complex legal process.
Contact our child custody lawyers today from Goline & Roland Law Firm to discuss your case and options!