In any state, custody is determined overall on the basis of the child’s best interests. Mediation is often encouraged as a first step, otherwise the court will decide custody. In Texas, a child who is at least 12 years old can sign an affidavit stating which parent they wish to live with, although the judge is not bound by the child’s wishes exclusively.
The best interests of the child breaks down into a number of criteria the judge will weigh when determining custody. Texas courts tend to operate under the assumption that joint legal custody is the best for the child unless it can be proven otherwise.
Courts consider the following factors:
- The health, safety, and welfare of the child
- Any child abuse
- The history of contact between the parent and child
- Each parent’s finances
- The relationship between each parent and the child
- Where the parents live
- The health of the parents
- How close the parents live to each other
No matter who is awarded custody, Texas divorce courts routinely encourage parents to share with each other the rights and duties of raising their child.
Both parents are bound by a court order once it is finalized. A parent who is denied access to their child for whatever reason have the right to take the issue before the court.