When there’s a divorce, many issues need resolving. Debt and property allocation and spousal support are among the long list. However, one of the more difficult, complex and emotional issues involves children. Even in an uncontested divorce, figuring out which party gets custody of the child is difficult and often stressful.
Parties can and are encouraged to come to a mutual agreement on issues regarding their divorce. Sometimes they can find success through medication or collaboration methods. But, when these options aren’t feasible-whether due to the hostile nature of the relationship or particular circumstances relating to the child-a court will step in to make decisions. Typically, child custody determinations, and other decisions affecting the children, will be made based on what’s known as the “best interests of the child.”
Understanding the ‘Best Interests of the Child’ in Texas
The definition of “best interests of the child” is used differently in each jurisdiction, but generally it’s referred to custody decisions that will result in the most superior or safest environment for the child to live, grow and thrive.
In the state of Texas, the courts look at the following “best interests” factors that include but are not limited to the child’s:
- Physical or mental vulnerabilities
- Access to proper health and nutritional care
- Access to appropriate discipline and supervision
- Past history of any physical or mental abuse
- Access to extended family or support system
Courts examine these factors in the context of present circumstances, but also future situations the child may encounter as he or she grows.
If a child is over the age of 12, courts will often consult the child on his or her living preferences.
Typically, in the state of Texas, joint conservatorship (where both parents maintain equal rights and decision making power over the child’s care and upbringing) is desired. However, this isn’t always possible. Depending on the circumstances, one parent may be awarded sole conservatorship.
Consulting With a Family Law Attorney
There are so many complex issues that need to be examined and determined when it comes to issues relating to child custody in Texas. Coupled with an already stressful situation, making decisions relating to a child in a marriage can be overwhelming for everyone involved. Seeking the help of an experienced Texas family law attorney who can offer neutral guidance about the laws and options available is advised.