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How is child custody determined in Texas?

Every state handles custody cases a bit differently. At the end of the day, though, they all have the same goal in mind, protecting these young individuals and making sure they are in environments that will best help them grow and develop. As every family is unique, no one-size-fits-all approach to child custody will work. That is why Texas offers several custody options and various ways in which to reach custody arrangements.

What are the different custody arrangements available in Texas? How does one go about getting a custody order put in place?

Types of custody

Two basic types of child custody exist in Texas -- sole and joint. Sole custody, also known as sole managing conservatorship, means that only one parent will have legal and physical custody rights to the affected child. The state does not necessarily favor this custody option; however, there are reasons as to why it is still available, such as:

  • A history of violence in the home
  • Drug abuse
  • Alcohol abuse

If the court ultimately awards you sole custody, the non-custodial parent may have the ability to seek visitation rights.

Joint custody, also known as joint managing conservatorship or shared custody, tends to be what the courts favor. Why? It allows both parents access to their child, which has shown to be best for the child's emotional well-being.

How to get a custody order

A custody order typically starts with a court petition. It's a generally accepted practice for you to submit a parenting plan with the petition for court approval. This plan is one that parents can negotiate on their own or with the assistance of legal counsel.

If you and the other parent cannot reach a custody agreement through negotiations, it is possible to leave the decision up to the court. In doing so, both parents have to be willing to accept the custody arrangement set by a judge. In order for a judge to make such a decision the following factors will require consideration:

  • The parent/child relationship
  • Current living arrangements of each parent
  • Accusations of domestic abuse -- if applicable
  • Child's wishes -- if child is older

Sometimes letting a judge make the final call really is necessary, but many parents try to avoid it as most really do want some say in the matter.

Seek the custody arrangement that best suit your family's needs

Just because a custody arrangement works for one family, it does not mean it will work for another. With legal assistance, parents in Texas can work to achieve child custody schedules that work for them and best benefit the needs and desires of their children.

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