When the judge determines child custody in Texas, several factors contribute to that decision. Understanding what the judge takes into account when deciding your child’s permanent residence and visitation helps you better prepare for the process.
There are five primary considerations for custody determinations.
1. Home environment
The biggest factor in custody decisions is your child’s safety, security and well-being. The judge considers the home environment with each parent to assess which is the most nurturing and stable.
Another important element of custody determinations is the relationship that the child has with each parent as well as any siblings. If there are siblings from a previous marriage, the judge might consider the child’s bond with those siblings and the parent they reside with as a factor in the decision. Additionally, if one parent has a substantially stronger and closer relationship with the child, that factors into the decision as well.
3. Parental abilities
The judge considers each parent’s ability to meet the child’s needs both physically and emotionally. This includes access to healthcare, education and emotional support. Involvement in school and extracurricular activities also reflects well.
4. Special needs considerations
In cases with special needs children, the judge considers each parent’s understanding of and ability to support those needs. In some relationships, one parent takes the primary role in supporting and addressing special needs. This factors into custody determinations to ensure that the child receives adequate support.
5. Child’s wishes
Depending on the age of the child, Texas courts often consider their preferences as well. Children with adequate maturity to express their preferences may have the opportunity to express those wishes to the judge.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than a quarter of U.S. children have a parent who lives outside of their household. With so many children subject to custody orders, it is important to understand the factors that contribute to those decisions. This helps you better prepare for your case.