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How is Child Custody Determined in Texas?

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You and your spouse decided to get a divorce. Between the conversations, paperwork, and court dates, you also have to split up parenting time. Child custody is usually one of the most contentious issues during divorce proceedings. That’s why it’s important to understand how child custody is determined in Texas and why hiring an experienced child custody lawyer is in your best interest moving forward. 

Factors the Court Considers

In Texas, the courts prefer for the divorcing parents to come up with a child custody agreement themselves. However, they also understand that doing so isn’t always possible. If the divorcing parents are unable to come to an agreement themselves, the courts will get involved to make a determination. 

The courts make this determination based on what is in the child’s best interests. In most cases, they presume that a joint custody agreement is the best outcome for all the parties involved. However, if a parent is not a good fit, they may grant one parent primary physical custody based on the following factors: 

  • Each parent’s financial situation
  • The relationship the child shares with each parent
  • The history of each parent’s contact with the child
  • Where each parent lives and their proximity to one another
  • Each parent’s physical and emotional health
  • The child’s health, safety, and welfare
  • Any history of child abuse, domestic violence, or neglect

The courts may also use a psychological evaluation to determine child custody. In Texas, any child who is 12 years old or older can sign an affidavit stating they prefer to live with one parent or the other. However, it’s important to note that the judge may not use this as one of their deciding factors. 

Types of Child Custody in Texas

The state of Texas divided child custody into two categories: conservatorship and possession and access. Conservatorship is when the parent has the legal right and ability to make all the decisions for their child regarding their health, religion, education, and psychiatric treatment. There are two types of conservatorships: sole managing conservatorship and joint managing conservatorship. 

A joint managing conservatorship is what you and your spouse have before you get divorced, as both of you are legally able to make decisions on behalf of your child. After a divorce is finalized, this may change to a sole managing conservatorship, which grants this ability to just one parent instead of two. 

Possession and access, on the other hand, refers to visitation and physical custody. This refers to the parent who has or shares physical custody of their child or when they can visit them if they do not have joint custody. 

How Can a Child Custody Lawyer Help?

As noted above, child custody is a contentious topic and it’s not uncommon for parents to try and throw each other under the bus in order to hurt each other’s chances of getting custody. However, there are certain situations that may arise during your divorce and custody dispute that will benefit from hiring a child custody lawyer. Examples include: 

  • Your ex is planning a move. If your soon-to-be-ex-spouse is planning to move, then it’s a good idea to hire a child custody lawyer. Different states have different laws surrounding child custody. Also, moving complicates the logistics of visitation. 
  • You or your child suffered abuse. If your ex abused either you or your children, having to have face-to-face conversations with them can be like ripping a bandage off an old wound. Your child custody lawyer will be your advocate and mediate these negotiations to keep your communication to a minimum. 
  • Your ex is making everything difficult. You and your soon-to-be-ex talked everything over and came up with a plan you both felt comfortable with. Everything was going fine until one day they changed their mind. This is a common scenario and when it happens, it can throw a wrench in your plans. This could be a red flag that you’re heading into a custody battle, in which case it’s necessary to have an experienced attorney by your side. 

Dealing With Child Custody? Call the Hager Law Firm For Help

Child custody is a sensitive topic, especially when you want to spend as much time with your child as possible. When you’re dealing with a custody issue, you need to contact an experienced child custody lawyer who can help you understand the process, negotiate on your behalf, and guide you on the best course of action. Sarina D. Hager of the Hager Law Firm is that attorney. 

With nearly 30 years of practice under her belt, Attorney Hager will put you and your children first. Call her today at (903) 466-0001 to schedule a consultation. 

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