Texas child custody laws are continually evolving, and courts must conduct a thorough analysis before making any determinations. The state recently replaced a significant amount of the language in their statutes to lessen the entire process’s negativity. For instance, custody is now referred to as “conservatorship,” that and “managing conservatorship” and “possessory conservatorship” replace “legal” and “physical” custody. Possession and access to the children refer to when the parents have physical custody or visit their children. Generally, Texas maintains two custody schedules, standard and extended standards, which dictate how and when each parent sees their children.
The Texas Family Code, Section 153, explains that child custody determinations should be viewed under the lens of “the best interests of the child.” While the Code presumes that joint custody is ideal, that arrangement does not always comport with the child’s best interests. Courts typically make their decisions per the state’s public policy concerns. The primary factors revolve around assuring that the:
- The child will have continuing and frequent contact with parents who have established the ability to act in the child’s best interest,
- The child wIll have a safe and stable home environment, and
- The parents will share in the duties of raising their children
In addition to these factors, the court will look to other critical aspects of the parent-child relationship. These factors include:
- The parents’ history of involvement with the child’s life;
- The parents’ cooperation with the other parent or caregiver;
- The parents’ criminal history or abuse issue;
- Overall household stability of each parent;
- Continuity and consistency; and
- The child’s desires.
Besides the “best interests of the child,” none of the abovementioned factors will be evaluated in a vacuum. In other words, none of the factors can act as the sole reason for a child conservatorship decision. Courts will look to the totality of the circumstances when making their ruling.
Additional challenges may arise when a third party or someone other than the child’s biological parents attempts to gain custody or visitation over a child. These individuals may have a claim for custody if the individual has been in possession of the child for at least six months. Moreover, a close living relative may file for custody if the child’s parents have been deceased. It is also important to note that many family court judges may order the parents to participate in parenting classes.
Contact a Texas Child Custody Attorney for Immediate Assistance
Divorce and child custody actions are some of the most high-stakes, daunting and emotionally fraught proceedings. The attorneys at Guest & Gray have a long history of obtaining favorable results for those going through Texas divorce proceedings. Our firm’s top-rated family law attorneys have an in-depth and comprehensive understanding of Texas’s complex family law statutes. We handle Texas adoptions, alimony, child custody, child support, CPS matters, modifications, divorce, enforcement, grandparent rights, paternity suits, post-marital agreements, and protective orders. We prioritize the best interests of our clients and help them understand their rights and remedies. Contact our office at 972-564-4644 to schedule an initial consultation.