Although a Lot of Things Have Changed Because of COVID-19, the Process of Determining Child Custody in Texas Has Not.
How you present your case may be different, but the facts that you must show remain essentially the same. The Courts still encourage parents to work together to develop a child custody solution that will work for everyone. However, if you cannot come to a reasonable agreement, then the Court can make custody decisions for you.
How the Texas Courts Consider Child Custody
As a starting point, the Court will assume that both parents will share parental rights and duties for each child, just as they would if the couple continued to operate as one unit. Those duties and rights do not have to be equal, but they will usually be shared.
The Court considers a variety of factors to determine which parent should get which rights and duties related to the child. For example, if the child is over the age of 12, he or she can sign an affidavit that states that he or she would prefer to live with one parent or the other on a regular basis.
The Court will also use outside resources, such as psychological evaluations of the parents and the children. Input from Texas Health and Human Services, if they have been involved in the case, will usually be considered, as well.
The most important factor, however, is what the Court determines is the “best interests of the child.”
What is the “Best Interests of the Child”?
The “bests interests of the child” is a legal phrase that essentially allows the Court to consider a wide range of factors that will help it make a decision that will support the child’s emotional, mental, and physical health. The Court’s goal is to provide the child with an environment that will foster healthy growth and development.
In making this type of evaluation, the Court will consider things like:
The history and relationship between each parent and the child
The parents’ health
Any special needs that the child may have
The parents’ finances and living situation
The location of each parent, including how close they live together
Any history of child abuse or abandonment
Any history regarding criminal activity or drug use
In general, even if the Court determines that a child will live primarily with one parent, the non-custodial parent will usually have visitation rights. Shared physical custody arrangements are also common, such as when a child lives with one parent for part of a week and another parent for the remainder of the week.
Presenting Your Best Case Regarding Child Custody
If you would like primary physical custody of a child, you need to show the Court why the child’s best interests would be served in this type of custody arrangement. The Law Office of Laura Cain can help you with this process, whether that means making a creative solution in mediation or presenting your case in Court.