How is Child Custody Established in Texas?

Child Custody AttorneyWhether you are in the early stages of divorce planning with minor children from your marriage, or you are anticipating a child custody case as a result of a separation from the child’s other parent, it is important to understand how child custody is established in Texas. Under the Texas Family Code, child custody is discussed in terms of conservatorships. Rather than being awarded child custody, parents in Texas can be appointed as joint managing conservators, or one parent can be appointed as a sole managing conservator. When a child spends time with a parent, often known as physical custody or visitation in other states, Texas courts use the term “possession.” Now that you have a better sense of the terminology surrounding child custody in Texas, how do courts establish custody? We will go through some key points you should know.

Best Interest of the Child Standard

Like in many other states, courts in Texas rely on the “best interest of the child” standard when determining how to appoint conservators, or how to award child custody. The Texas Family Code makes clear that “the best interest of the child shall always be the primary consideration of the court in determining the issues of conservatorship and possession of and access to the child.”

The Texas Family Code also clarifies that “it is a rebuttable presumption that the appointment of the parents of a child as joint managing conservators is in the best interest of the child.” In other words, courts begin from the presumption that parents should share child custody or should co-parent. However, if there is a finding of domestic violence, or a history of family violence, then the court no longer begins from the presumption that joint managing conservatorships for both parents is in the child’s best interest.

Establishing a Parenting Plan and Custody Schedule

When parents in Texas can agree to a parenting plan, then those parents can create an arrangement and co-parenting schedule to file with the court – if it is in the best interest of the child. When parents cannot agree, the court will look at a variety of factors to determine what is in the best interest of the child when establishing a custody arrangement. Some of those factors include, for example:

  • Child’s physical, psychological, and emotional health;
  • Each parent’s ability to give priority to the child’s needs over their own;
  • Each parent’s ability to encourage a positive relationship between the child and the other parent;
  • Each parent’s role in child rearing prior to the divorce or custody petition;
  • Geographic distance between the parents’ residences; and
  • Child’s preference if the child is at least 12 years old.

Contact Our Dallas Child Custody Attorneys for Assistance

When you have questions or concerns about conservatorships in Texas, it is important to speak with an experienced child custody attorney in Dallas. One of our lawyers can discuss your case with you today. Our firm is committed to helping families throughout Dallas, Frisco, Fort Worth and San Antonio. Of 100,000 lawyers statewide, no other law firm in Texas has as many attorneys named to the Thomson Reuters’ list of Top 100 Super Lawyers in Texas. Contact Orsinger, Nelson, Downing and Anderson, LLP today to learn more about how we can help with your child custody matter.