While divorce is hard for anyone who goes through it, you may find it especially challenging as a parent. You and your spouse may be locked in a custody dispute and resolving it may be the most difficult part of your proceedings. You will likely worry about the share of custody you will receive if your divorce is tense. But by knowing Texas’ custody laws, you can fight for an arrangement that protects your relationship with your children.
Determining your children’s best interests
The legal term for custody, in Texas, is conservatorship. No matter your final conservatorship arrangement, it must reflect your children’s best interests. In determining these, the court will weigh factors related to their safety and stability, including:
- Whether you and your spouse can both meet your children’s physical and emotional needs
- Whether you and your spouse can both provide your children a stable home environment
- Whether you and your spouse will both encourage your children’s relationship with the other parent
- Whether you or your spouse pose any physical or emotional danger to your children
- Whether you or your spouse was your children’s primary caregiver during your marriage
- Your children’s preferences, so long as they are of the appropriate age or maturity
Determining an appropriate arrangement
The court will likely consider a joint conservatorship order in your children’s best interests. Under this order, you and your spouse will be their joint managing conservators. You two, then, will share decision-making responsibility for your children. Yet, your children will not necessarily split their time equally between you and your spouse’s households. Whichever of you ends up as their noncustodial parent will receive possession – Texas’ equivalent of visitation.
If either you or your spouse have a history of domestic violence toward the other, the court will not enter a joint conservatorship order. Whichever of you does not have this history will end up as your children’s sole managing conservator. This outcome is likely, too, if one of you has a history of substance abuse, child abuse or neglect.
No matter your odds of receiving or sharing conservatorship, you will not want to leave this outcome to chance. By consulting a family law attorney, you can fight to keep your parental rights intact.