Custody battles are some of the most difficult, stressful situations parents go through during a divorce. The fear of losing time and privileges with your child can be absolutely suffocating. What child custody factors do the courts use to make a decision, and how can you put your best foot forward during litigation?
When a Texas court makes a determination about child custody (referred to as conservatorship in the state statutes), it considers a large number of factors and weighs each important issue carefully. The court’s guiding principle in custody cases is always: “What is in the best interests of the child?”
What factors will the court consider when deciding custody?
Texas courts are at liberty to assess any and all factors related to the child or parents (except gender or marital status) that might impact the child’s well-being. Courts tend to make decisions that cause the least upset in a child’s life; they seek to reduce the trauma and keep the status quo. Some of the things the courts will look at include the following.
- The history and nature of the relationship between the child and each parent
- The health of the parents
- The ability of each parent to provide a safe home and good living conditions
- The child’s schooling and extracurricular activities
- The finances of each parent
- The parents’ living situations
- Any special needs the child may have
- Breastfeeding issues
- The distance between the parents’ homes
- Any history of violence in the family
- Each parent’s willingness to support or facilitate the child’s relationship with the other parent
- The child’s desires (after age 12)
How do I secure custody of my children?
The ideal situation for custody after a divorce is for both parents to amicably reach terms on their own and decide upon a schedule that best suits the children and the family members’ schedules. When this cannot be accomplished, the courts will have to decide. And make no mistake, custody battles can become just that – battles. You will need to arm yourself accordingly.
If you have not already, you will want to retain an attorney to help you prepare your case. Your lawyer may recommend mediation to attempt to reach a compromise. If that proves unsuccessful, she can begin compiling evidence that demonstrates positive aspects about your relationship with your child and how you are able to provide the home, love, and support your child needs.