Understanding Child Custody Arrangements in TX
Any custody issue has the potential to be highly contested. As parents,
we want what’s best for our children, and we fight for what we believe is right. This can make an otherwise amicable divorceturn into a heated battle over custody and visitation.
Even though there are common aspects that a judge routinely considers in
a child custody dispute, each custody case is different and may affect
one or more of these custody arrangements. Therefore, it is essential
to understand which arrangement may be best for you and your family.
What are the Different Types of Custody in Texas?
Most parents that come in for a consultation with us ask how they can get
“primary custody” or “sole custody” of their children.
While this is a reasonable and expected question in a parent’s mind,
the legal term in the Texas Family Code is
conservatorship. One parent is usually given the exclusive right to designate the primary
residence of the children.
Joint & Sole Managing Conservatorships
The term conservatorship encompasses many other rights, duties, and obligations
of the parents or conservators beyond the issue of the children’s
primary residence. The presumption in Texas is that parents are Joint
Managing Conservators and will make decisions jointly, such as whether
a child should have an elective surgery or receive psychological treatment.
However, there are some cases where one parent is named the Sole Managing
Conservator and the other parent is named the Possessory Conservator.
Those designations are typically reserved for the high conflict relationships,
or in a case where one parent has significant mental health or substance
abuse problems, or other issues that interfere with their ability to parent.
How is Custody Determined in Texas?
There are several factors that the courts consider when making judgments
regarding child custody in Texas. The overarching factor is the best interest
of the child.
There are multiple ways to measure this, which include:
- Each parent’s home environment
- How far the parents live from each other
- Each parent’s ability to take care of the child or children
- Whether or not the parents are able to work together
financial situation of each parent
- The job situation of each parent (travel, work hours, etc.)
- The child’s preference when 12 years or older
- Needs of the child (both emotional and physical)
- The current extent of each parent’s relationship with the child
These are just a few of the factors a court may consider. No matter what,
the court will decide based on what it believes will be in the
best interest of the child.
Is Texas a 50-50 Custody State?
Yes, Texas is a 50-50 custody state. Texas law explicitly says courts cannot
discriminate based on sex when deciding custody.
The Texas Family Code also states that it is the state's policy to encourage
frequent contact between a child and each parent for times of possession
that optimize the outcome of a close and continuing relationship between
each parent and child.
Typically, the court will name both parents as joint managing conservators
of their child unless there is a compelling reason why one parent should
have sole conservatorship.
Parents can switch to an SPO, a 50/50, or another schedule if they prefer
and agree. If parents disagree, the judge will decide on custody, visitation,
and access based on the child's best interest.
What Makes a Father Unfit for Custody in Texas?
What makes a father unfit for custody in Texas is if he has a practical
and negative impact on the child's emotional and physical health. Some
effects labeled as unfit include abuse, unsuitable living environment,
history of drugs or alcohol, or abandonment.
Should You Get A Lawyer For Child Custody In Texas?
During Texas child custody proceedings, your attorney will establish an
open line of communication with you so you can express your wishes and
concerns, as well as seek legal advice relating to your child or children,
your relationship with a co-parent, or your case in general.
Get Highly Experienced Custody Counsel
There is an unlimited number of variations within the issue of conservatorship.
Our firm works to find a structure that works best for our client and
As mediators and
litigators, our Austin child custody lawyers have negotiated and formulated an infinite
number of conservatorship structures for our clients and mediation parties.
Don't go through the Texas child custody process alone.
Contact us at
(512) 668-7133 to put our Austin custody attorneys on your side.