Child custody is often the most emotionally charged issue in a divorce. “How will this affect the kids?” is the first thing most parents wonder about divorce. And fear of losing time with a child can be devastating.
In Texas, there are several things that family courts consider when making decisions about child custody. Here’s an overview from the lawyers at our Ft. Worth law office.
Conservatorship, Possession and Access
Texas divides child custody into two categories: conservatorship and possession/access:
- Conservatorship is the right to make important decisions about your child’s life. These include decisions about where your child will go to school, what medical treatment they will receive and what religious practices they will follow.
- Possession and access are where the child spends his or her time. The court may decide which parent the child will live with most of the time, as well as how often the other parent spends time with the child.
The “Best Interests of the Child”
When deciding child custody matters, Texas courts use a “best interests of the child” standard, which was outlined in a case called Holley v. Adams. The case involved termination of parental rights, but courts have said that they should apply in all child custody cases.
There are many factors listed in Holley, including:
- The desires of the child
- The physical and emotional needs of the child now and in the future
- Any emotional or physical danger to the child
- The parental ability of the person seeking custody
- Programs available to help the parent and child
- Plans for the child by the parent seeking custody
- Acts of omission by the parent that might indicate the parent/child relationship is troubled
Each Case Is Different
Each child custody case is different. For example, when judges apply the “best interests of the child” standard to very young children, they often give the child’s preferences less weight than they would if the child was older. Older kids get more of a say in where they would like to live and who they would like to make their decisions.
Conversely, with babies, courts consider how well the parent is prepared to deal with the baby’s basic needs–like eating, sleeping and having diapers changed. These things naturally become less of a concern as the child grows older.
Questions About Your Child Custody Case? Ask a Lawyer.
Because each case is different, it’s important to talk with an attorney about the facts of your case. Don’t just rely on internet research. Instead, schedule a confidential consultation. You can get started by contacting the Ft. Worth office of the Schneider Law Firm, P.C., at 1-817-755-1852.