The main principle that is usually behind the decision of a Texas family court judge in a child custody case is the broad concept of "best interests of the child." This is not a static determination with preset rules but rather it will vary in each child custody case depending on the circumstances presented. The point of the rule is that the court is not determining child custody to satisfy the demands of the parents, but rather to serve the true needs of the children.
The ideal custody arrangement that the courts will strive to foster is often called "shared custody." In shared custody, the parents will not necessarily divide their time with the children on a strict 50-50 basis, but they will share equally in the decisions relating to the upbringing of the children. The facts of the case, however, are not always amenable to a shared custody determination.
Where it is necessary that one parent have primary physical custody of the child, the court will strive to provide a workable visitation order for the noncustodial parent. This model has been popular in the past in Texas and throughout the country. It is, however, losing favor as social workers, psychologists and other experts tout the superior value of the children living with each parent and having a true sharing relationship with each of them.
Many factors are looked at by a child custody court in Texas. Some of these include monetary factors, household facilities, geographical locations, school opportunities, commuting arrangements and living conditions. If the parents live in close proximity, physical custody may be shared more so than in other situations. Child custody experts are increasingly assuming a role custody disputes to parlay their expertise and share with the court advanced thinking and trends in this vital area of practice.
Source: wisegeek.com, "What Factors Influence Child Custody Cases? (with pictures)", Lori Smith, Nov. 7, 2017