Divorce: Child Custody Orders
Child custody in a divorce case is always an important part, if not the most important issue, during a divorce. The court makes decisions on child custody in the child’s best interest and focuses on the following:
- Limiting the child’s exposure to physical or emotional conflicts between the parents
- Evaluating the responsibilities of the parents and history of the parent-child relationship with respect to each child
- Ensuring the child’s physical care and emotional stability is implemented
The Primary Custodial Parent
There is a presumption in the Texas Family Code that provides it is in the child’s best interest to spend time with both parents. But the court will name one parent as the primary custodial parent. This parent is the person who the child lives with most of the time and designates where the child attends school.
In determining which parent is best suited to be the primary custodial parent, the court looks at several factors, including the roles each parent assumed in the child’s life. It is a large misconception that the mother is automatically the primary parent, but a court will appoint the parent who is best for the child, which may mean the father.
- In the court’s evaluation, the court will consider the following:
- The child’s age and development needs
- The child’s physical and emotional needs
- The relationship the child has with each parent and other family members
- The parent’s lifestyles and his or her ability to provide the necessities—food, shelter and clothing
- The parent’s work schedule and the ability for him or her to provide care for the child absent the other parent
Each is carefully examined to determine who the primary parent should be, but courts usually consider the parent-child relationship as the most important.
Child custody arrangements can differ: some parents have unsupervised visits and others have limited contact with their child with supervision. Custody transfers may not happen, or other arrangements may provide parents have a week-on-week-off schedule. The considerations above and the best interest of the child will dictate which arrangement is best.
At times, it may be best to have family and friends support your position with regard to a consideration listed above. Other times, an attorney may seek testimony from influential witnesses: teachers, daycare supervisors, counselors, and the like. Courts may consider this testimony more influential than others due to the objective opinions such witnesses will provide to the court.
Disclaimer: Family law cases are often complex and are based on fact-specific circumstances. This information is not legal advice but meant to enhance general understanding.
Please feel free to contact our office to setup a consultation to have the award-winning lawyers at The Stuart Firm be your counsel in you family matter.