One of the most challenging aspects of navigating co-parenting with the mother or father of your child when you are no longer together is working out a child custody arrangement. Child custody and visitation agreements don’t just affect a parent’s ability to make decisions for their child—they can also impact the parent-child relationship and the child’s long-term well being.
In Texas law, the amount of time a parent spends with a child is referred to as “possession” or “access,” while the term “conservatorship” is used to refer to parental rights and duties, such as the power to make medical decisions and psychiatric decisions, decisions about a child’s education, and more. Conservatorship can be arranged several different ways, from allowing both parents to make decisions together (joint managing conservatorship) or a single parent (sole managing conservatorship).
In some cases of shared custody, co-parents come to a private agreement about where the child lives, how physical custody is arranged, and who makes decisions about the child’s future. However, in cases where parents do not agree, a Texas family court judge makes the decision based on the best interest of the child. Often, both parents are named as joint managing conservators, but in other instances, one parent may be granted sole custody.
Here are some of the factors that may impact how a judge rules on a Texas child custody case:
- The child’s age
- The child’s preference
- The child’s emotional, physical, and educational needs
- The child’s extracurricular activities
- The stability of the home environment
- Parental cooperation and involvement in the child’s life
- Parental abilities, health, and financial stability
- The child’s desires to be near a sibling or other family member
- History of family violence or child abuse
In order to make a ruling on a child custody case, a Texas court will hold custody hearings to issue temporary orders regarding visitation and other matters. Custody trials are where two parents present their arguments and evidence to the judge for a final ruling, usually with the assistance of a family law attorney.
Sometimes a legal custody order can be modified, but it has to be in order to meet the best interest of the child. It can only happen under a few circumstances, including instances of family violence or physical or emotional danger to the child. In addition, a child custody order may be changed if the child is 12 years old or older and tells the court he wants to change his primary caretaker; if the parents agree to a change; if the primary caretaker gives up possession of the child for at least six months; or if there’s been a significant change in the financial or medical circumstances in a child or parent.
This blog post does not constitute legal advice. If you are facing child custody issues or have questions about a custody suit or your legal rights regarding child custody and visitation, contact a family law attorney at Sandoval Family Law today. We specialize in family law cases and can review your custody case, interpret the Texas family code, and help represent you in court.