Child custody: A difficult issue that may surface during a Texas divorce

Going through a divorce can be a challenging experience - one that is often fraught with difficulties. Indeed, regardless of whether a couple is dealing with issues related to alimony or even the division of property, the possibility always exists that other disputes may also arise during a Texas divorce.

For instance, if children are involved, quarrels regarding child custody may easily emerge. And, while Texas law clearly encourages divorced parents to share in the rights and duties of raising their children, sadly, many parents are unable to put aside their differences in order to figure out exactly how they are going to accomplish this feat. In circumstances such as this, the court may be asked to step in and help decide issues related to child custody.

Texas child custody laws

Given the abovementioned preference to have both parents involved in the raising of a child, Texas courts will often appoint both parents as a child's conservators. However, there are two main types of conservator arrangements in Texas, the first of which is a joint managing conservatorship. Essentially, a joint managing conservatorship is a parenting arrangement in which both parents share the responsibility for making important life decisions for a child, such as those related to schooling, medical care and religion.

Conversely, Texas law also recognizes a sole managing conservatorship, which, as its name implies, is an arrangement in which only one parent is vested with the power to make important life decisions for a child - with the other parent typically being granted some form of visitation rights.

However, determining what type of Texas child custody arrangement will be ordered often boils down to what is in the best interest of a child. In fact, Texas law expressly states that the best interest of a child in the "primary consideration" during custody disputes. The main factors used when determining a child's best interest include, but are not limited to:

  • The child desires and preferences
  • The parental abilities of the individuals seeking custody of the child
  • The plans for the child by the individuals seeking custody
  • The programs available to the individuals seeking custody that will help them promote the best interest of the child
  • The physical and emotional needs of the child, both now and in the future
  • The physical and emotional danger to the child, both now and in the future
  • The stability of the proposed home
  • Any actions by either of the parents that may indicate the current parent-child relationship is not appropriate
  • Possible excuses for these actions

Just as with any matter that may arise during divorce, child custody issues can be extremely complex. Accordingly, if you are currently considering divorce and believe child custody will be contested, it is best to seek the counsel of an experienced family law attorney.