The “best interests” of the child(ren) is the primary concern in Texas child custody decisions. But, what exactly does that mean? What arrangements and living conditions would best suit the child and who would be the best custodial parent? Every family is different, and each child’s needs are unique. Texas family courts want to see the whole picture when considering child custody cases. Each case will be reviewed by a judge who will weigh all aspects and determine what is in the best interests of the child.
Texas courts don’t consider certain points, such as marital status, gender, or religion of a parent when determining custody. They are not concerned with marital infidelity as long as it hasn’t caused harm to the child.
These are the most important factors in Texas child custody cases. Although all of these factors will be taken into consideration by the court, none is more important than the other. They will be used by judges, along with other relevant points, to make a decision that is in the best interest of the child.
The Child’s Needs and Development–Physical and Emotional
Is the proposed custodial parent able to understand and provide for the child’s immediate and long-term needs? Is the parent able to provide opportunities for the child’s intellectual and/or social development? Can they provide food, clothing, and shelter for the child? They will be able to provide dental and medical care. Is the home a safe and loving environment where the child can grow up?
The Wishes of the Child
What do the children want? Once a child has turned 12, according to Texas Family Code, Section 153.009 the judge will take into consideration the child’s stated wishes regarding custody and other arrangements. Is the child more comfortable living with one parent than the other? Does the child have a strong opinion about whether they want to live with certain siblings or not? Although some children are simply too young, Texas judges will often grant the wishes of children over the age of twelve.
Do they have a good grasp of the basics of raising children? Are they able to understand their child’s developmental needs well? What level of involvement have they had in the education of their child? Are they able to communicate well with caregivers and teachers? Are they willing to work with the other parent? The court will appreciate a parent’s willingness to work with the other spouse when there are differences.
Judges know that parents are not always perfect. While Texas judges will frequently grant custody to a parent who historically stayed home to care for a child, the courts will not grant custody to a parent who has demonstrated that they cannot hold a job, a parent who is suffering from mental or physical illness, or a parent who abuses substances. Texas courts will rule that the child’s best interests are paramount, even though the parent may not be entirely responsible for their problems.
Helpful Programs for Parents
Do the parents have access to any programs or assistance that can help them provide a safe and stable environment for their child? Many of these programs and resources are available through the government, non-profits, or community groups. If such assistance is made available to a parent and they are eligible, the court will be more favorable to their ability to look after the child’s best interest.
Safety in Physical and Emotional Health
Are the child’s immediate physical and emotional needs being met? The court will need to know the history of abuse and domestic violence by either parent. To serve the best interests of a child, it is important to ensure that they live in a safe home and are not subject to emotional trauma or physical harm.
Plan for the Child
Each parent should be able to discuss the plans they have for their child. What is the vision for child care and school? Is the parent able to offer suggestions on how to encourage and support their child’s after-school and social activities? Is there a financial plan in place for the child if he or she wants to go to college? Is the parent able to plan for the main challenges of child-rearing as a single parent?
The Stability of Both Potential Homes
What is the stability and security of the homes of both parents? Is one parent frequently away from home? Are they moving into the same house as the child? Or will it be a new home for them? What length of time has the parent lived in the house? Are there siblings, other relatives, or roommates in the home? Is the child allowed to have their own room?
How stable are each parent’s work situations? What is their income? Are the dwellings rented, owned, leased, rented, or occupied by other means? A home environment that is stable and consistent for the child is better than one that is unstable or inconsistent.
Inappropriate Parent-Child Relationships: Actions and Omissions
One parent might present evidence that the other parent has failed to maintain a parent-child relationship by taking a specific action or failing to take a similar action. These instances may include child neglect, but could also encompass a variety of actions and responsibilities. The parent accused has the right to give an explanation or excuse for the act or omission.
Contact Bolton Law To Get an Expert on Your Side
Family situations can be stressful and complex in law matters. At Bolton Law, we ONLY handle family law in Texas, including child custody cases. You have a better chance of achieving a positive outcome when you are represented by compassionate and experienced lawyers. This will allow you to spend less time worrying about what might happen next and more time focused on your child or children.
Our experienced child custody attorneys will guide you through each step of the process. They will provide exceptional legal representation and compassionate understanding of your family members.
Call us now at 281-351-7897 and let us start working for you.