When a Texas court must decide how to handle custody during a divorce, it looks at what is in the best interest of the child. This legal standard is common across custody cases in the United States.
What do courts look at to determine what is best for children of divorcing parents? Take a look at some of the methods a judge may use to make crucial custody decisions during a divorce.
Health and happiness
First and foremost, a judge wants to give children the best opportunity to grow up in a happy, healthy and safe environment. If there is no threat of harm from either parent, then the judge will want to foster a close emotional bond between the children and both parents. Thus, it is typical for a court to award joint legal custody, known as joint managing conservatorship in Texas, to divorcing parents. This gives them an equal right to make decisions for the children, such as education, religion and medical care.
Custody and visitation are separate issues. Parents may have equal conservatorship, but one may have more time than the other. When it comes to deciding visitation, a family court judge prefers that parents agree on a schedule that suits them and the children best. However, absent this, the judge may use information gleaned from court filings to decide timesharing, including:
- The emotional bond between the children and one parent over the other
- The work schedule
- The children’s preference (if old enough)
- The children’s school and activity schedule
Allowing a child custody case to go before a judge may cause higher emotional stress for everyone involved. Both parents reaching an amenable agreement on how to handle children is in the best interests of the family unit moving forward.