TEXAS CHILD CUSTODY LAWS
When preparing for a custody battle in Texas, parents need to be thinking fundamentally about what is in the best interests of the child, for this is what the court will be focusing on.
Parents do have rights under Texas law, but it is the needs and rights of the child that are of paramount importance in custody cases, and these will be the key factors upon which the court will attempt to base its decision.
As stated in section 153.002 of the Texas Family Code, ordinarily, parents are considered to be equal in their right to parent their child, so the rights of parents is not likely to be taken into account. It is the best interests of the child that are important, and the aim of the Texas Family Code (as seen in Section 153.00) is to:
- (1) Assure that children will have frequent and continuing contact with parents who have shown the ability to act in the best interest of the child;
- (2) Provide a safe, stable, and non-violent environment for the child; and
- (3) Encourage parents to share in the rights and duties of raising their child after the parents have separated or dissolved their marriage.
If you are a parent who is preparing for (or even considering) a custody battle, you would do well to keep this in mind at all times. You will not be able to put together a solid case for custody of your children unless you can show how you having custody will be in their best interests.
Giving prime consideration to your children will also play a determining role in many other key areas of your life, at least until custody has been determined. These areas include:
(1) Where you live
While it might be tempting to move as far away from your former spouse as possible, this is rarely going to be in the best interests of the children.
(2) How you deal with your own stress.
While you might feel that you need for the presence of your child or children to help you get through the trauma of the family breakdown, keep in mind that your children are simply not equipped to deal with the range of emotions experienced by an adult, and that ventilating your personal difficulties on them is not simply unhelpful, but can be a form of abuse!
(3) Watching what you say about your Ex
In a similar vein, parents preparing for custody cases before the court of Texas must be mindful of the extraordinary damage that they can do through bad-mouthing their former partners in front of the children.
Such behaviour is not only damaging to children and parents alike, but it may also be taken into consideration by the court, where a noticeable failure in self-control may be taken as an indicator of an inability to parent!
We will discuss each of these issues in greater detail elsewhere on this site. At this point it is enough simply to grasp the fundamental principle - that custody arrangements are made in Texas primarily on the basis of what is in the best interests of the child, and not on the basis of what suits you as a parent!