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Detailing some of Texas’s important child custody laws

When it comes to child custody disputes in Texas, public policy dictates that a child should have frequent contact with both parents, so long as the parents have shown that they act in the best interest of the child. Indeed, in the case of divorce, the law in Texas expressly encourages parents to share in the duties of raising the child.

However, while Texas law permits parents to draft their own proposed parenting plans, parents are not always able to amicably agree upon these child custody arrangements. When this occurs, a Texas court will often be charged with helping resolve the quarrel.

The best interest of the child

Under Texas law, the best interest of the child is always the “primary consideration” when determining issues of child custody. Indeed, when establishing child custody – otherwise known as conservatorship in Texas – a court will normally need to weigh all of the circumstances that may impact the child, including anything that may affect his or her physical, mental or emotional needs. The primary factors used by the court when examining the best interest of the child, and making a conservatorship determination, include:

  • The desires of the child
  • The child’s current and future physical and emotional needs
  • The possible physical or emotional danger to the child both now and in the future
  • The parental abilities of the persons seeking custody
  • The programs available to those seeking custody that will assist them in promoting the best interest of the child
  • The plans for the child by those seeking custody
  • The stability of the home
  • Any acts or omissions by a parent which may show that the current parent-child relationship is not appropriate
  • Any excuse for the acts or omission of the parent in question

However, it is important to note that this does not constitute an exhaustive list of all of the factors a court can consider when determining the best interest of the child, nor will all of these factors need to be considered by the court in every conservatorship case.

Types of child custody arrangements in Texas

When establishing child custody, Texas law recognizes two types of conservatorship: joint and sole. As the names indicate, joint conservatorship allows both parents to share duties, rights, privileges and authority, while sole conservatorship vests these powers with only one parent. Additionally, at least one “managing” conservator must be appointed if the parents are no longer together.

In the most basic terms, the managing conservator is the child’s primary custodian and typically has the right to establish the child’s residence. However, if only one managing conservator is named, the court may appoint the other parent as a possessory conservator, which generally means he or she will be entitled to visitation rights.

Ultimately, though, each conservatorship situation is different, which is why it is best to consult with an experienced child custody attorney if you are a parent embroiled in a custody dispute. A skilled attorney can explain your rights and help ensure the well-being of your child is protected.

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