You and your ex both want custody of the kids. Even with the marriage ending, nothing is more important to you than the relationships you have with the children. Nothing. Your ex feels the same way.
To decide how it will all play out — if sole custody should go to either of you or if you’ll get joint custody — the court looks at the children’s best interests. It’s their goal to protect the kids and put them first. That should be your goal, as well. Here are some key things to consider.
1. Children shouldn’t live in conflict
The kids deserve a conflict-free home. Adults should always strive to keep them out of the conflict that comes with divorce and with co-parenting. For instance, they should never talk poorly about one another to the kids or use them to send messages back and forth when they’re not on speaking terms. They should also keep children out of arguments and disagreements.
2. Children have a relationship with both parents
Your kids’ relationship with your ex does not end just because yours does. They love both of you. They’re forever connected to both of you. Except in cases of abuse and things of this nature, courts generally do seek joint custody so as not to ruin those relationships.
3. Children’s lives should change as little as possible
Life does change during divorce, but you should seek to reduce the impact as much as possible for the kids. For instance, even if they have to move out of the family home, you may try to keep them in the same school. Essentially, you’re attempting to give them the life they would have had if you and your ex had stayed married. It can’t be exactly the same, but that should be your goal.
4. Kids need reasonable financial support
Exactly what “reasonable support” looks like differs from family to family, but the divorce should not leave the kids wanting. In most cases, both parents offer this financial support in one way or another. One parent may do it through the direct costs of raising the kids, for instance, while the other pays child support.
5. Kids deserve to be kids
Above all else, you want your kids to be kids. You want them to enjoy life, to have a happy childhood, and to feel well-adjusted as they grow and develop. They can get this after a divorce. Just put them first and fight to give them the life you want for them.
As you sort through all of this and much more, make sure you understand your rights in Texas and the legal steps you need to take.