How Do Courts Decide Custody?

If you are a parent and your marriage ends, your concerns lie with how you and your partner will share custody of your children. A solid co-parenting relationship can improve your child’s emotional health after a divorce.

Review the factors that influence child custody determinations in Texas.

Physical custody schedules

Texas refers to physical custody as possession and access. The state generally allows you to work together with your co-parent to develop a custody arrangement.

You can use the state’s standard and extended standard possession and access schedules as a starting point when your child is age three or older and you live within 100 miles of your child’s other parent. Parents can also agree to modify these schedules based on their families’ special needs.

The best interests standard

When parents cannot agree on custody, they can ask the court to decide. When determining how parents should share possession and access, judges will consider the child’s best interest based on these factors:

  • The child’s emotional and physical needs, both now and as they mature
  • The stability of each parent’s living arrangement
  • Each parent’s child-rearing plans and abilities
  • Whether either parent needs and can access resources to help their child thrive
  • Whether either parent’s home puts the child in emotional or physical danger
  • The child’s preferences, depending on age and maturity level
  • Any indications of issues in the parent-child relationship and whether the parent can explain these actions or failures

The Texas Supreme Court established these factors in 1976. They guide judges in helping parents reach a custody schedule to keep children healthy and safe.

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