A child custody battle can be emotionally draining. Arguing with your spouse about who should get custody of your child might seem like a never-ending struggle. If you’re having trouble agreeing on an arrangement, hiring an experienced lawyer might be necessary. An attorney can protect your rights and fight for your interests.
Before proceeding with your child custody case, you should understand the legal considerations that go into Texas custody decisions, the types of custody available, and the factors courts often use to issue a ruling.
Legal Considerations on Child Custody in Texas
The state’s public policy regarding child custody is to:
- Assure the child has continuing and frequent contact with parents who demonstrate the ability to act in their best interests
- Provide a nonviolent, safe, and stable environment
- Encourage each parent to share the duties and rights of raising their child after separation or divorce
The child’s best interest is always the most critical consideration in Texas courts deciding custody matters.
Types of Child Custody
In Texas, child custody is called conservatorship. Two primary types of conservatorships include:
- Managing conservatorship – A managing conservatorship determines which parent can make critical decisions about their child’s life, such as education, medical care, and religious upbringing.
- Possessory conservatorship – Possessory conservatorship refers to the parent the child will live with and when the other parent can see the child.
But, according to Texas Family Code § 153.131(b), the court presumes both parents should have joint managing conservatorship. That means the courts believe each parent should have input in deciding on issues that affect their child’s life. However, the court might appoint one parent as the sole managing conservator if joint managing conservatorship isn’t in the child’s best interest.
Factors Involved in Determining Child Custody
The courts must consider the child’s best interest as the primary factor in determining conservatorship. Judges can consider additional factors to decide on a child custody case, such as:
- The child’s immediate and future emotional and physical danger
- Any actions or failure to act showing a parent doesn’t have a proper parent-child relationship
- The parent’s excuse for their actions or failures to act
- The available programs for assisting parents who want to promote their child’s best interest
- The child’s desires
- Each parent’s plans for their child
- The child’s immediate and future physical and emotional needs
- The home or proposed home’s stability
- Each parent’s parental abilities
How to Modify a Child Custody Order
Your custody battle might lead you to request the court to modify an existing agreement. Requesting a conservatorship or possession order change requires filing a Petition to Modify the Parent-Child Relationship with the court.
However, Texas Family Code § 156.101(a) says courts should not grant a modification request unless it is in the child’s best interest and at least one of these factors apply:
- The circumstances of the conservator, child, or someone else affected by the order substantially and materially changed since the original agreement.
- A conservator with the exclusive right to designate the child’s primary residence voluntarily relinquishes possession and care to someone else for at least six months.
- The child is at least 12 and expresses to the court their preference in terms of modification.
Get Help with Your Custody Battle
Navigating a child custody battle can be complicated and time-consuming. Although you might want to settle the matter amicably, involving lawyers and the court might be necessary. Hargrave Law, PC has over two decades of experience assisting Bedford clients with their legal disputes. We will work to achieve the best possible outcome for your case. Contact us for a confidential consultation to get started on your child custody case today.