During a marriage, each spouse usually assumes different roles in their parenting responsibilities. How they do this during the marriage may not be something they think about on a daily basis, but it can become very important if the couple goes through a divorce.
Child custody, which is called conservatorship in Texas, is a very important decision in divorces and governs how the parents will be responsible for decisions for their children after the divorce.
There are different options for custody. The parents can either share joint custody or one parent will receive sole custody of the children. If the parents have joint custody, the parents will share in the decision-making responsibilities and both have a say in the decisions.
If one parent has sole custody, that parent will make all of the decisions.
Typically, parents agree to share joint custody. However, even if the parents do not agree to it, judges can order that the parents share joint custody.
Factors used by judges to determine whether joint custody is best
The law in Texas states the factors judges analyze and include, but are not limited to:
- Whether the needs of the children are best met by having both parents involved in the decision making
- The ability of the parents to put personal animosity aside and reach decisions based on the best interests of the children
- The parents’ ability to accept and encourage the children’s relationship with the other parent
- How the parents shared parenting responsibilities during the marriage
- How close they live to each other
- The preference of children over 12 years old
After analyzing these factors, if the judge decides that joint custody is in the best interests of the children, they can further establish each parent’s responsibilities.
Judges can designate one of the parent’s homes as the primary residence for the children. They can also designate each parent’s responsibility for physical needs of the children and their education as well as other decisions for the children.
Child custody determinations are very difficult for parents in Texas. Personal feelings towards the other parent can complicate the decision-making process. However, ultimately the decision is made in the best interests of the children, not necessarily the parents. Understanding the factors that judges use to determine custody is important and consulting with experienced attorneys could be beneficial.