Like many other Texas parents, you might recall the exact moment you made a final decision to file for divorce. Perhaps, you had already tried everything you could think of to save your marriage, but things just kept getting worse. After making the decision, you no doubt worried about how the upcoming changes in life would affect your children. Their best interests are your top priority, and you want to do what is necessary to help them cope and successfully adapt to a new lifestyle.
You want to make the process as painless as possible for your kids. In most situations, family court judges typically believe that children fare best in divorce when shared custody arrangements prevail. However, your situation might include extenuating issues that make you believe sole custody would be best.
Basic types of custody
When you divorce, it may be possible for you and your co-parent to devise the terms of your own child custody agreement. To do so, you must first understand the basic types of custody, which include physical custody, meaning where your children live, and legal custody, meaning who has authority to make decisions on behalf of your children, such as those involving issues about education, health care or religion.
You and your co-parent might agree to a shared custody arrangement, which is typically what most Texas family court judges believe is best for children. However, if there are extenuating issues that make you believe otherwise, you are free to petition the court for sole custody of your kids, but you must convince the court your case warrants such an arrangement.
Visitation may be part of your settlement
If you become the custodial parent of your children, the court may see fit to grant your ex visitation privileges. It’s common for parents to agree to scheduled plans, with detailed instructions on when such visits will take place. The court will also decide whether visitation will be supervised, such as if there is evidence that unsupervised visits may be a detriment to your children’s safety or well-being.
In certain circumstances, such as if your ex has a significant substance abuse problem or poses an emotional of physical danger to your kids, the court may determine it best to prohibit all visitation. This type of order may be temporary or permanent.
Factors of consideration
When making child custody decisions, the court considers the ages of your children. If you wish to be a custodial parent, you must prove your ability to care for your kids, especially if your ex has requested sole custody. Your family history is also an important factor, in particular, whether there is any evidence of child neglect or abuse.
If your children are older, the judge may seek their opinions about issues pertaining to custody or visitation. This doesn’t mean that your kids will be the ones to make legal decisions; however, the court may consider their opinions as part of its decision-making process.
Minimizing the stress of child custody litigation
Divorce is stressful, and it’s understandable that you wish to keep stress levels as low as possible as you and your children move on in life together. There will no doubt be challenges along the way. If you have close friends and family to rely on for support, chances are you and your kids will be able to resolve most issues of concern.
Sometimes, a legal issue might arise that a close friend or relative is not able to help you resolve. Rather than feel as though you must handle it on your own, you can take comfort in knowing you can reach out for additional support from someone well-versed in child custody laws and experienced in helping families find fair and agreeable solutions to custody-related problems.