How Child Custody is Awarded in Texas: The Custody Process
In Texas, child custody is decided based on the best interests of the child. In determining the custody of a child, Texas courts encourage mediation as a first step. If the parties are unable to resolve custody issues on their own, then child custody will be decided by a court (usually a family court judge) based on the best interests of the child.
Texas Child Custody: Court Decisions
In determining the custody of a child, Texas courts may presume that parents will share parental rights and duties. The duties do not need to be shared equally. If the divorcing parents cannot agree on custody themselves or through mediation, a Texas court will make a determination.
A Texas court may use social studies or psychological evaluations to help it make a custody decision. A child who is 12 years old or older can sign an affidavit if he or she would prefer living with one parent although the judge is not obligated to follow the child's wishes.
Best Interests of the Child
In Texas, child custody decisions will be made by a court based on the best interests of the child. A Texas court will presume that joint legal custody will be best unless one parent can prove otherwise. A court will consider many factors in deciding primary physical custody, including:
- The history of contact between the parent and child
- The relationship between each parent and the child
- The health, safety, and welfare of the child
- The health of the parents
- Where the parents live
- How close the parents live to each other
- Each parents finances
- Any child abuse
A court may take steps to ensure that children will have frequent and continuing contact with parents who have shown the ability to act in the best interest of the child, even if that parent does not have custody. After awarding custody of a child, Texas divorce courts encourage parents to share in the rights and duties of raising their child.
After finalization of a Texas child custody order (and divorce order, if applicable), both parents are bound by the court order. If a parent is denied court-ordered access to his or her child, he or she may bring the issue back before the Texas court.