Who Has More Custodial Authority in Texas, the Mother or Father?

Who Has More Custodial Authority in Texas, the Mother or Father?

January 28, 2019

One of the most frequently asked questions we receive about child custody is whether the courts prefer to send children to live with the mother or the father. The answer is actually “neither,” and the question demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of how the courts implement child custody arrangements in divorce cases. The standard is always going to be to go with whatever is in the best interests of the child, not to automatically send the child to either the mother or the father.

Here’s some information from a divorce lawyer in Lubbock, TX about child custody and the types of child custody arrangements that exist.

Child custody arrangements

There are several options for Texas courts when issuing custody orders.

One option is to award sole custody to one parent. In such an arrangement, the child resides primarily with that parent, and that parent is granted the exclusive ability to make decisions on that child’s behalf.

In most cases, though, the courts much prefer joint custody arrangements, as they consider it generally to be in the child’s best interest to have meaningful and significant relationships with both parents. In a joint legal custody arrangement, the child will most often primarily reside with one parent while the other parent has visitation rights. However, the parents will both have equal decision-making power as they raise the child.

A shared custody arrangement is when the parents both have legal custody rights and physical custody rights, meaning the child will have two residences and live with each of their parents for at least 35 percent of the calendar year.

The final option is the rarest, and it is split custody, in which there are at least two children and each parent has full custody of at least one child. In most cases the courts consider it to be in the children’s best interest to remain together.

Factors that go into determining custody arrangements

So what exactly is meant by the “best interest” of the child when determining custody arrangements? If the court isn’t looking at automatically sending the child to live with the mother or the father, what is it looking at?

Here are a few examples of some of the key factors considered in child custody cases:

  • The current and future physical and emotional needs of the child
  • Any potential danger that may exist to the child (whether physical or emotional) by living with either parent
  • Each parent’s demonstrated parenting abilities
  • The stability of the proposed home in which the child would live
  • Each parent’s plans for parenting and raising the children
  • Programs that are available to assist each parent in raising the children and promoting their best interest
  • The child’s ability to maintain a stable life from before to after the divorce (e.g. staying in the same school and community)
  • The child’s preferences (in some cases, if old enough to have a reasoned preference)

For more information about child custody in Texas, contact a divorce lawyer in Lubbock, TX at the Law Office of Rob Biggers.

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