How Child Custody and Visitation Works in Texas

Child holding dad's hand.

What to Know About Child Custody and Visitation

When you’re getting a divorce, one of the first things you may think about is your child[ren] and which parent they will live with. In a divorce, child custody and visitation can be emotionally challenging processes that can take months to resolve.

Establishing custody and visitation early on in the divorce process is one of the best things you can do to help move your divorce forward. Continue reading to get a basic understanding of how child custody works in Texas.

How Do I File for Custody?

If you’re filing for custody, we suggest that you consult with an experienced family law attorney, like ours here at BTR Law before filing any paperwork.

There are different types of custody in Texas called temporary, joint, and sole custody.

What is Temporary Custody?

Temporary custody is for parents who already have custody at the time of the filing. This type of custody is different from court-ordered custody. Filing for temporary custody gives you a chance to formalize custody before your actual custody case begins. Like any custody case involving children, this type of custody is awarded based on whatever is in the best interest of your child.

What is Joint Custody?

In Texas, joint custody is separated into three categories called joint legal, shared physical custody, and combined joint custody, or combination.

Here are the differences between each category of joint custody:

  • Joint legal custody allows you to share custody of your child.

  • Shared physical custody would give you slightly more control over your child.

    • Your child would have two residences.

    • Your child would have one primary residence.

  • Combination custody allows you to combine aspects of shared physical and joint legal custody.

If joint custody doesn’t work for you and your spouse, the next option would be sole custody.

What is Sole Custody?

Sole custody combines legal and physical custody for one parent. If you have sole legal custody, then you would be responsible for making major decisions for your child. These decisions would include things like the following:

  • You will decide on your child’s education.

  • You will decide on their religious practices and education.

  • You will make medical decisions for them.

  • You will make non-emergency choices.

  • You will make any other major decisions for your child.

If you have sole physical custody of your child, then your child will live primarily with you and your home will be their primary residence.

While there are different types of child custody that you can request with the help of your attorney to fit your situation, a judge would still need to evaluate the fitness of you and your ex.

How Is Custody Determined?

No matter the type of custody you are seeking, a judge will always make a decision based on what is in the best interest of your child. There are factors that a judge may consider:

  • Your employment status.

  • Your mental and physical health.

  • Your ability to meet your child’s mental, physical, and emotional needs.

  • Your ability to work with your ex to make decisions for your child.

  • How active you and your ex were in your child’s upbringing before the case.

  • How far you and your ex live from each other.

  • If you have ever been incarcerated and under what charges.

  • Your child’s preference if they’re at least twelve years old.

While it’s common for only one parent to be the most involved, if your ex chooses to want an equal amount of time and responsibility, then a judge will also take that into consideration. However, there are factors that can impact the amount of time each parent spends with your child. For example, if there was any evidence of any form of abuse during the marriage, that would be a significant factor.

Count on a Family Law Attorney for Help

Child custody cases can be tricky, especially for newly divorced parents. Having a reliable child custody attorney is the best way to begin your child custody case. Our family law attorneys at BTR Law are the right team for the job.

We handle each case with care and concern because we understand how sensitive child custody cases are. Contact us today at (979) 316-7133 to schedule a consultation and begin initial paperwork.

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