Family courts in Texas base their child custody decisions on the general standard of the best interests of the child. This standard gives a judge broad discretion to make decisions and allows for the consideration of many different factors in arriving at a determination. Child custody situations can be hard to predict because their outcomes may vary widely based on the judge and specific facts of the case. There are, though, a few factors that are likely to be considered in the large majority of instances.
Courts will look for some kind of evidence that each of the parents is able to meet the emotional and physical needs of the child. This might include demands for proof that the parent can provide shelter, clothing, medical care, food, parental guidance, education and loving support. The court will also consider each of the parent’s mental and physical health.
Judges usually have a preference that the child’s life remain consistent following separation of the parents. They will look at how much a particular custody arrangement might disrupt things like living arrangements, child care or school routines and time spent with other family members. This is especially true for younger children.
Safety is always among the major factors in the mind of the court when determining the best interests of the child. Judges will not hesitate to deny possession or access when it may present a risk to the safety of the child. Generally speaking, judges try to avoid any change that may negatively impact the child. A family law attorney might be able to help parents who are trying to gain custody of their kids. Counsel might be able to draft a custody arrangement that is acceptable to the court and the other parent or advocate on behalf of the client during child custody hearings.