When parents separate, it is not uncommon for them to have disagreements about child custody. Sometimes, both parents want primary custody of the children, which can mean the matter has to go to court. Courts in Texas base decisions in child custody cases on the best interests of the child standard. For parents who are seeking custody, it is important to know what factors are used to apply this standard.
Age of the children
Family courts take the child’s age into consideration and examine the bond between child and parent. Generally, the younger the child, the more hands-on care that will be needed. Sometimes, judges defer to the parent who is the primary caregiver if the child is young. For older children, the courts may also consider the child’s wishes.
Children usually do best when they have a consistent routine. Judges usually prefer to keep disruption in the child’s life to a minimum and maintain existing routines. This generally includes routines surrounding school, living arrangements and access to extended family members.
The better parent
Courts will look for which parent is the “better” parent. They will look for evidence that shows the parent requesting custody is able to meet the child’s physical and emotional needs. Can the parent provide essentials like food, clothing, shelter, education and medical care? The courts will also take the physical and mental health of the parents into consideration.
Child custody cases can get complicated quickly. For parents in Texas who are seeking child custody, one of the most important things they can do is to speak with a knowledgeable legal representative. An attorney experienced in family law can provide much-needed legal guidance throughout the process of securing a workable and comprehensive child custody arrangement.