7 Most Important Factors in Child Custody Decisions

Going through a divorce is always hard, but things become much more difficult and complex when custody of children is part of the divorce negotiations. Children automatically raise the stakes in the divorce proceedings, as few parents ever want to give up time with their little ones.

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

Understanding Texas Custody Factors

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

While the judge may consider a range of items when deciding about the most important factors in child custody, several typically appear at the forefront. We have outlined seven key factors that nearly always make up the most important factors in child custody decisions. Please remember that this blog is not intended as legal advice for your specific circumstances regarding child custody factors. For a consultation on your situation and for options regarding your child custody factors, please contact Amsberry Law Firm today.

1. Best Interests of the Child

The closest thing to a steadfast rule that Texas has when it comes to the most important factors in 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. Would it be in the child’s best interest to have no contact with a parent; would it be better for the child to have visitation with both parents; or would something in between work better? As shown in Chapter 153 of the Texas Family Code, 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 have involvement in the child’s life now, usually will have a strong impact on the Texas custody factors as well. If parental involvement in the child’s life had an equal split before, the court will likely want to maintain such a split. If one parent clearly handled all aspects of raising the child before, the court 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 who consistently try to undermine and criticize the other parent in front of the children are less likely to receive custody rights. A parent who shows a willingness to cooperate with the other parent when it comes to visitation and co-parenting will have a stronger case for 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, receiving primary custody is unlikely.

5. Continuity As Child Custody Factors

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

Through continuity, the child can continue to sleep in the same bedroom most of the time. The child’s neighborhood friends are still there, which can be an important support network. The child does not have to change schools or join a different local sports team when continuity is in place.

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 or the other parent, the abusive parent is unlikely to receive any sort of custody. That parent may even need to visit with the children with third-party supervision in place, if that parent receives any visitation rights at all.

7. Child’s Wishes

The final most important factor in child custody in Texas depends in part on the age of the child. The courts may consider the wishes of an older child who is the subject of the custody dispute. If the older child states a desire to live with a specific parent, the court likely will factor that into its decision. Children 12 years old and over a court must interview as to their preference.

Which of the Most Important Factors in Child Custody Does the Court Emphasize Over the Others?

The court doesn’t necessarily emphasize any single one of the most important factors in child custody over the others. The court certainly does focus on the best interests of the child at all steps of the child custody proceedings, but it must apply that factor as an overarching idea when considering all the factors mentioned here. No single factor on this list will, on its own, be the sole determining reason a court rules one way or another in your custody case. The court will always look at all the evidence and make a decision based on the big picture.

We Can Help You Understand the Most Important Factors in Child Custody

Determining child custody is a very challenging process for all parties involved. When our child custody lawyer is representing you in your case, we know that you are trying to seek the best situation for the kids. But we also know that determining just how to reach that best situation brings out a lot of emotions and arguments that likely were contentious aspects of the marriage that eventually led to the divorce.

Remember that before the court decides on child custody in your case, the court will ask you and the other parent to try to negotiate a settlement on your own (with your attorneys present). Coming to the court with a negotiated settlement gives you a sure outcome in the case. When the court must decide because you and the other parent cannot come to a settlement, the outcome is unknown.

Although some people may believe that having lawyers present in the negotiations regarding child custody can make the proceedings more argumentative, the opposite is often true. With attorneys doing the negotiating, we often can defuse hot-button topics that you and your spouse argued about frequently during marriage. Additionally, some people will be on their best behavior with strangers in the negotiating room. And should the arguments start heating up, our team has experience with helping to find compromise and with ramping down the emotions for all parties involved.

We Fully Understand the Most Important Factors in Child Custody

Although every divorce and child custody case is unique, our experienced team at Amsberry Law Firm has extensive knowledge of how the district courts in Bexar County handles child custody cases. With fourteen different district judges, each has their own preferences of consideration. Having an advocate who is familiar with each of the different judges’ preferences and weighing of consideration can make all the difference in reaching a desirable result. case, and we will work hard to uncover the facts that give you the best chance at seeing the outcome you want in your child custody proceedings.

We cannot guarantee that you will receive a certain outcome in your custody case. What we can guarantee, though, is that our team will work as hard as we can on your behalf. We will not back down while in negotiations or when a contested hearing is required, and we will counteract any lies and unfair accusations that your spouse is making during negotiations. If you are trying to move through the most important factors in child custody during a dispute, we are ready to help with tireless work and legal guidance for you.

Amsberry Law Firm Is Ready to Start Working for You Today

Please contact Amsberry Law Firm today at (210) 354-2244 to learn how we can help. We represent clients in the San Antonio area, Bexar County, and the surrounding counties. Should you end up with a child custody finding in court that you believe is unfair or that does not fully reflect the actual facts in the case, our team also can help you appeal the child custody decision.

Attorney Russell Amsberry

Attorney Russell J.G. Amsberry

Attorney Russell J.G. Amsberry founded the Amsberry Law Firm in 1995 with the goal of providing clients with exceptional, focused representation on their issues. His success as a legal advocate has been reflected in the numerous professional honors he has received, such as speaking engagements and inclusion in Scene in SA magazine’s listing of the best lawyers in San Antonio, a Distinguished rating from Martindale-Hubble, and an amazing rating from Avvo. [ Attorney Bio ]

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Amsberry Law Firm

The Amsberry Law Firm, founded in 1995, has helped thousands of clients overcome their unique legal challenges.

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