How do Texas family courts decide on child custody?

On Behalf of | Apr 14, 2023 | Child Custody Disputes

Family law acknowledges the importance of relationship building between parents and their children. This applies even with divorced or separated parents. This is why it is important for ex-spouses to agree on a suitable custody arrangement. If there is a dispute on the terms, the courts can step in and decide for them.

But how do courts establish what arrangement is best for each custody case?

Factors the courts consider

It is good to note that in Texas, the law uses the term “conservatorship” instead of “custody.” The courts consider several factors when deciding the best arrangement for the child. The list guides their decision-making, but it is not set in stone. This is because each custody case is unique and different factors may apply. The common factors the courts consider include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • The child’s preference
  • The child’s present and future needs
  • The child’s relationship with each parent
  • Each parent’s ability to care for the child
  • Each parent’s plans for the child
  • The proposed home’s stability
  • Any history or possibility of violence, abuse or any danger to the child

While the list includes the child’s preference, the courts merely consider the same and do not necessarily follow the same. The court’s top priority is an arrangement that would be in the child’s best interest.

Presumption of joint conservatorship

Texas laws presume that divorcing parents must be joint managing conservators, meaning both have the authority to create important life decisions for their child. The same presumption does not apply to the physical custody of the child. However, the presumption of joint managing conservatorship will not apply if there is violence, abuse or neglect of the child.

Parents may have different ideas about what is best for their children. However, their perspective might not be in line with what’s best for their children. Understanding how the courts determine the right custody arrangement can help parents align their perspective with their child’s well-being.