Child custody is an issue of primary importance in a Texas divorce proceeding, and while property issues can generally take their time to some extent, resolution of temporary arrangements regarding the children will be decided rather swiftly. Of course, where the parents have already decided on a framework for child custody and visitation, the family law court will often approve those terms. In some instances, the court may order modifications to what the parents have decided.
A custody battle for permanent custody may be heard by the family law judge in a non-jury trial. There are essentially two general platforms for child custody in Texas and other states. The first is an arrangement of primary physical and legal custody in one parent and visitation to the other. The second is shared or equal custody, where each parent shares equally in the welfare, education and upbringing of the children. That type of arrangement nonetheless usually provides one parent more time with the children, mainly due to school schedules and not wanting to disrupt their lives excessively.
There are several factors that the court uses to decide child custody awards. These include whether the children have been under the care of one of the parents for a considerable time, and also whether one of them has better demonstrated daily parenting skills. The work history, income-producing capacity, available economic resources and ability to financially provide are all considered. The character and attributes indicating emotional security and mental health are also important to look at.
In Texas and other states, the child custody courts will also look at the personal lives of each parent to see whether there has been a pattern of alcohol or drug abuse, driving citations, license suspensions, criminal record or other danger signals that would tend to deflect from the parent's ability to assume custody. Prior instances of child abuse or neglect will also necessarily weigh heavily in the court's decision. An experienced family law attorney will prepare his or her client for all of the issues that may come up.
Source: theglobaldispatch.com, "How Maryland Courts Establish Custody", Amelia Smith, Nov. 15, 2016