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Filing for child custody or modification in Texas

While Texas family laws favor joint child custody to encourage both parents to remain part of a child's life, one parent has the right to file a claim for sole custody of a child. Many factors related to the care of the child, the existing living conditions and the parent's ability to take proper care of the child will be considered in a child custody application. However, there are some basic requirements to be noted prior to filing such a claim.

Going through a child custody case in Texas requires the child to be a resident of Texas or to have lived in Texas in the six months prior to the filing. Besides living in Texas, the parents are required to have some other connection with the state, such as employment. Once these requirements are met, the court will examine any history of child abuse or domestic violence in the existing environment as well as the environment of the parent seeking custody.

In cases where the child is over the age of 12, he or she may be able to express his or her wishes in court. These wishes will be considered by the judge when making a decision about child custody. While these procedures may be followed in the initial determination of child custody, a Texas parent will have the right to ask the court to modify a child custody order anytime in the future. Although the court will not consider such a modification for trivial reasons, it is not uncommon for circumstances to change. Such changes may include the custodial parent developing a dependency on alcohol or drugs, incarceration or an abusive stepparent.

Parents in Texas who are considering child custody or a custody modification application may benefit from the knowledge of an experienced family law attorney. After gathering all the necessary information, such a professional will be able to suggest the best way forward and represent the parent in family court. He or she will explain the legalities of such a claim and do whatever is necessary to protect the best interests of the child. Answers to questions about the Texas Family Court Act are available on our family law website.

Source: singleparents.about.com, "Child Custody in Texas", Debrina Washington, Nov. 21, 2014

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