Many people have questions about child custody in Texas. Below are some answers to some common questions.
If you have any additional questions about child custody or need more information, please call me today at 682-234-2006 or email me to schedule your free initial consultation.
How do the courts determine custody?
The best interest of the child is always the primary consideration of the court in determining the issues of custody of the child.
What factors do the courts look at to determine what is in the best interest of the child?
- The child’s physical, psychological and emotional needs
- Ability of parents to give first priority to the child’s welfare and reach shared decisions
- Each parent’s ability to encourage and accept a positive relationship between the child and the other parent
- Each parent’s participation in childrearing prior to their lawsuit
- Geographical proximity of parents’ residences
- Child’s preference when age 12 or older
- Any other relevant factors
Isn’t it true that the courts favor the female spouse having custody of the children?
To determine custody matters, courts, by law, should consider the qualifications of each parent of a child without regard to his or her marital status or sex. My clients trust me to ensure that the letter of the law is upheld.
What is “joint conservatorship?”
Texas child custody law can be confusing for those who have not been introduced to it. When my clients first come to my office, they often ask, “I have been told that I should want joint conservatorship. What is it?”
It is important to know that “joint conservatorship” does not refer to actual the possession of or visitation with the child. Therefore it does not mean that each parent has the child one-half of the time.
Instead, Texas law defines conservatorship as having certain major decision-making rights, privileges, duties, and powers with regard to the child. These rights and duties include the following:
- The right to establish the primary residence of the child
- The right to consent to medical, dental, and surgical treatment
- The right to receive and give receipt for periodic payments of support for the child (i.e., receipt child support from the other party)
- The right to represent the child in legal actions
- The right to consent to marriage or enlistment in the armed forces
- The right to make educational decisions.
“Joint managing conservatorship” means that both parents share these duties.
Where will the courts start with regards to determining conservatorship?
Texas has enacted a presumption that parents should be “joint managing conservators” (i.e., they should both share certain major decision-making rights, privileges, duties, and powers with regard to the child). Of course, this presumption can be rebutted. The presumption is based on the notion that it is usually in the child’s best interest to have both parents play a major role in all aspects of the child’s life.
Under what circumstances can the “joint managing conservatorship” presumption be rebutted? How can I avoid joint managing conservatorship and be named “sole managing conservator?”
The presumption can be rebutted by showing that a joint managing conservatorship arrangement is either not workable between the parents (i.e., you cannot make decisions together regarding the child) or a showing that joint conservatorship would not be in the child’s best interest. As a “sole managing conservator,” you would have most of the major decision-making rights, privileges, duties, and powers with regard to the child” yourself.
Remember, however, that “conservatorship” does not refer to visitation with or possession of the child. Even if you are be sole managing conservator of your child, your ex-spouse may still have access to the child.
At what age can a child sign an affidavit choosing a managing conservator?
Children are never asked to choose a managing conservator, although at the age of 12 or older, they may discuss who they wish to have possession/visitation of them, as well as other issues, with the court in chambers.
However, Texas law no longer allows attorneys or any other person to submit an affidavit to the court regarding the child’s preference of the parent or person who should have the exclusive right to determine the child’s primary residence.
Can a child testify at a custody trial?
No. In a nonjury trial, however, the court may interview, in chambers, a child that is 12 years of age or older regarding the child’s wishes as to which parent will have possession or visitation of him/her, as well as any other issue in a suit regarding the parent–child relationship.
What is a standard visitation order?
The complete terms and provisions of a standard visitation order may be found in the Texas Family Code, Chapter 153.3101 et seq, Subchapter F (inclusive).