The primary factor in determining which parent will get legal or physical custody of their child in Texas is the “best interest” of the child. In other words, the family courts must assess the ability of parents to provide for the needs of their kids to place them in the safest and most stable environment possible.
In a child custody battle, the court will look at things like each parent’s employment situation, housing situation and relationship status to determine which home is more stable and secure for the child. If one parent is constantly moving around or changing jobs while the other has a more stable living situation, the courts are more likely to award custody to the latter.
The age and health of the parents
Obviously, if a parent is elderly or in poor health, they may not be able to provide the same level of care as a younger, healthier parent. In these cases, the court will likely err on awarding custody to the parent who can take care of the child and meet their needs physically.
The ability of parents to provide emotionally
Texas family law recognizes that the emotional needs of a child are just as important, if not more so, than their physical needs. Parents who can provide a stable, loving home environment for their children are more likely to get custody than those who cannot.
The child’s own preferences
In some cases, a child may be old enough to have a say in which parent they want to live with. While a child’s preference is not always determinative, it is certainly given weight by the court.
The child’s relationship with each parent
If one parent has been absent from the child’s life or has shown little interest in them, the court is less likely to award that parent custody. The parent who has been present and involved in the child’s life is generally deemed to understand the child’s needs better and is more likely to be able to provide for them.
Texas family court will balance all these factors to find a suitable parent for the child. And whatever the decision they make, both parents must respect and adhere to it, lest they risk facing legal penalties. Besides, the court can modify an existing custody arrangement if there is a substantial change in circumstances.