When two parents choose to end their marital relationship, one of the common areas of concern for both parties is with whom the child or children will live. This can be a very emotional topic, and difficult decisions often have to be made. Courts may be brought in to decide both physical custody, which determines where the children live, and/or legal custody, which determines who makes parenting decisions. Texas courts favor joint custody in most cases, but there are some things that could sway a judge to place more custody with one parent. These include:
- Age: Are the children under a year old and still breastfeeding? If so, the mother may temporarily have a need for more physical custody. On the other hand, older children may be able to speak for their own preferences as to where they would prefer to live.
- Health: If a child has specific health needs that can only be met by a parent with more flexibility in their schedule, this could be taken into consideration.
- Ties outside the home: If one household would require children to move far away while the other allows for the continuation of their friendships, school life, and community, this may be taken into consideration.
- Red flags: This can include a parent who has known substance abuse issues, has abandoned the children, does not have a home where the children can safely stay, or has a history of abusing the child.
Overall, the guiding principal for judges is the best interests of the child. It is unusual for all custody to be placed with one parent, unless some of the aforementioned red flags are recognized. This is because it is typically considered in a child’s best interests to maintain a relationship with both parents. Individuals with questions or concerns about child custody issues could benefit by speaking with an experienced Texas attorney.