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How Courts Determine Child Custody?

When a married couple divorces, several significant personal, financial, and legal issues must be resolved. Few matters bear greater significance than custody of the splitting faction’s minor children. Should a family court be required to award custody to one parent or the other, the adjudicating body in question will consider numerous key factors.

At Benouis Law, we provide family law services to the residents of Austin and surrounding Texas cities and invite prospective clients to read this short blog discussing the child custody process and provisions courts take into consideration when having to decide such issues.


In the State of Texas, child custody is legally referred to as conservatorship. Ideally, family courts encourage separating parties to establish joint managing conservatorship in which both mother and father share parenting responsibilities and execute vital associated duties, such as providing for their offspring’s basic needs, rendering important medical and educational decisions, and organizing suitable living arrangements and visitation schedules. These tenets are typically established in a legal instrument known as a parenting plan.

Creating A Parenting Plan

In many amicable splits, the parties in question will work together to arrange a parenting plan that is fair to both sides and is formally documented and signed by each faction. Often, such agreements are reached after a period of negotiation between each side and their respective divorce lawyers.

Plans developed by parting spouses still must be reviewed by a court. However, in most cases, arrangements that were amicably agreed to and written in conjunction with state law and with the children’s best interests in mind are approved and included as part of the final divorce decree.

Court Involvement

When the separating parties are involved in contentious proceedings or simply cannot author a fair and balanced parenting plan, family court involvement might be warranted. Adjudicating bodies are mandated to render such decisions with the children’s best interests in mind.

When the court determines custody, said establishment must determine conservatorship, in addition to possession and access. While conservatorship determines who will make important decisions and provide necessary care for the young persons in question, possession, and access, which presides over issues like living arrangements and visitation schedules.

Even when one parent is given sole conservatorship or possession, the other parent is not freed of responsibility and will be expected to carry out important duties as needed.

When rendering these crucial decisions, courts often consider several important factors, including:

  • Each parent’s current living conditions
  • The employment status and financial capabilities of each parent
  • The age of the children in question
  • Any specific needs said offspring might have
  • The relationship the child has with each parent
  • The criminal histories of each parent. For example, if either parent has a record of abuse or neglect, said issues may heavily factor into an adjudicating body’s ultimate verdicts.

Can Children In Custody Cases Decide Which Parent to Live With?

The preference of the children in question cannot be the only determining factor. That said, the opinions of youths age 12 and older can be considered. The child must be able to logically make this decision. However, the court can choose to go against the child’s wishes if they believe it is not in their best interest.

Potential Order Modifications

Once the court makes a decision, said determinations are included as part of the splitting faction’s divorce decree and is a legal mandate that must be adhered to. Alterations can be executed. However, said actions cannot occur without court approval.

The individual desiring the alterations must formally offer a written declaration to their former spouse and the original adjudicating body what the intended changes are and the reason such amendments are necessary From there, the court will review the application and execute an ultimate rendering.

Speak to a Skilled Austin Child Custody Lawyer Today

Child custody is a sensitive, emotional, and often complex issue. Individuals either in divorce proceedings or considering said action for whom child custody is an issue are encouraged to contact us. Our team of Austin child custody attorney can review a prospective client’s case and might be able to assist them.

Further information about our firm or the services we provide can be accessed by visiting us online or by calling us today at 512-764-3932.