7 Potentially Important Factors in Texas Child Custody Decisions

Getting a divorce is always hard, but things become much more difficult and complex when there are children involved. Children automatically raise the stakes of a divorce, since few parents ever want to give up time with their little ones.

When a divorcing couple cannot agree upon terms for custody and a parenting plan, custody decisions will be left to the courts. But how does the court make a custody determination?

The most important thing to remember about Texas child custody cases is that there are no real steadfast or systematic rules. Every custody battle will be examined on a case-by-case basis, and the judge will make a ruling based on your family’s unique circumstances.

While there is a wide variety of factors that a judge may or may not consider when making his or her decision about custody, there are several that are consistently utilized. Below we have outlined seven key factors that are often considered in child custody decisions. Please remember that this blog is not intended as legal advice for your specific circumstances. For a consultation on your situation and options regarding your child custody case, please contact Amsberry Law today.

1) Best interests of the child

The closest thing to a steadfast rule that Texas has when it comes to child custody determinations is that courts will always make their decision based on the best interests of the child. This idea is the umbrella over all other evidence and considerations in a custody battle. Will it be in the best interests to have no contact with a parent, or would it be better for them to have visitation with that parent? The best interests of the child always come first.

2) Past parental involvement in child’s affairs

How each parent interacted with the child in the past, and the degree to which they were involved in the child’s life usually has a strong impact on the custody decision. If parental involvement in the child’s life was split equally before, the courts will likely want to maintain such a split. If one parent clearly handled all aspects of raising the child before, they may be more likely to grant sole custody to that parent.

3) Parental cooperation

Parents who are unwilling to cooperate with the other parent or consistently try to undermine and badmouth the other parent in front of the children are less likely to receive custody rights. A parent that shows a willingness to cooperate with the other parent when it comes to visitation and coparenting will have a stronger case for their custody wishes.

4) Household stability

The stability of the environment in which each parent lives can have a major impact on custody decisions. If one parent has a fluid or unstable living situation, they are not likely to be granted primary custody.

5) Continuity

Courts often lean towards achieving as much continuity for the child as possible. They recognize that change can be incredibly difficult for children to cope with, and they want to keep as many aspects of the child’s life the same. Thus, if the child has already been living with one parent full time, or one parent is getting the family home, the court may rule in favor of granting that parent primary custody so the child can maintain continuity.

6) Abuse and other criminal issues

A criminal record, and abuse in particular, can be a major factor in custody determinations. If one parent has a history of abusing the children, they are unlikely to be granted any sort of custody, and may even be required to have their visitation with the children be supervised, if they are granted visitation rights at all.

7) Child’s wishes

The courts will in fact consider the wishes of the child who is the subject of the custody dispute. If the child states that they want to live with a specific parent, the court will factor that into its decision.

Please keep in mind that, with the possible exception of the “best interests of the child” factor, none of the aforementioned factors on their own will be the sole determining reason a court rules one way or another in your custody case. They will always look at all the evidence and make a decision based on the big picture. If you are faced with a child custody dispute and you need legal guidance, please contact Amsberry Law today to learn how we can help.

Share this on...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someone

Written by Amsberry Law Firm

Amsberry Law Firm

Mr. Amsberry is board-certified in labor and employment law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. He is a proven litigator who has argued before the United States 5th Circuit Court of Appeals and earned favorable outcomes in complex, precedent-setting employment and civil rights cases. He served as a reservist assistant judge advocate general in the U.S. Army and is a sought-after lecturer and speaker on a range of legal issues.

JSON Script for Organization and LocalBusiness Schema Markup Please change the text in red to be correct for each client.