If you are considering filing for divorce in Texas, and you have minor children, your primary concern will be the well-being of your children after the divorce is final. As a parent, you always want what is best for your children. At the same time, you want to play a meaningful role in their growth and development. This blog post identifies how child custody and visitation are determined in Texas.
Your Right to Enter into a Mutual Agreement
In Texas, the courts typically encourage the parents to negotiate an arrangement to address who has physical custody, as well as what visitation looks like. The court still has responsibility for and jurisdiction over your case, and can reject custody or visitation arrangements that it does not believe are in the best interests of your
children. When formulating a prospective plan, you will want to consider all the needs of your children, including:
• Any special health or physical needs
• Educational concerns, including where the child attends and how far each parent lives from the school, as well as any extra-curricular activities the child participates in
• Religious training or observances
If you cannot come to a mutual agreement regarding custody and visitation, the court will use its discretion, placing a premium on the best interests of your child. The court will look at a broad range of factors when issuing a custody or visitation order, such as:
• The demonstrated parenting skills of each parent
• The prior conduct of each parent, including the extent to which each parent previously provided care and nurturing
• How close each parent lives to other family members, such as grandparents
• The ability of each parent to provide a safe and healthy living environment for the child
• The preferences of the child (although the Texas courts generally do not consider the child’s wishes unless the child is at least 12 years old)
Modification of a Custody or Visitation Order
It is not uncommon for one parent to experience significant life changes that render an existing custody or visitation arrangement ineffective. A parent may have a change in employment that requires that they work during times when they previously had custody. A parent may be offered an opportunity to take a promotion with a change in location.
The same process applies when you need to amend the terms of a custody or visitation order. The best way to do this is by mutual agreement (though the changes will still have to be approved by the court). However, if you cannot agree, the court will make a determination of what is in the child’s best interests.
Contact the Law Office of Len Conner & Associates, P.C.
Send us an e-mail or call our office at (972) 445-1500 or (817) 288-4168 if you’re in the Dallas / Fort Worth Area. Call us toll free at 1 (877) 613-5800 to set up a meeting. We are committed to providing every client with the highest levels of personal service and attention.