If you and your partner are splitting up, and you are parents, you may be wondering how the court makes custody decisions. The court does accept a parenting plan agreement if the two of you can come to a decision together, although it must be in the best interest of the child.
According to the Texas State Law Library, the State of Texas calls child custody ‘conservatorship’ and refers to ‘possession’ when it comes to spending time with the child. If you and your partner cannot come to a conservatorship agreement, a judge will do so, and he or she will consider various factors.
General conservatorship information
A judge generally considers granting joint conservatorship unless circumstances show this is not a good option. With joint conservatorship, this means that both parents are able to make decisions regarding their child’s wellbeing, medical care, education and other important things. However, it does not necessarily mean that each parent will have equal possession of the child. In Texas, grandparents can also request visitation rights.
Factors that the judge considers when making a decision
Texas allows any child 12 years of age or older to express their wishes about conservatorship and possession orders, but the judge ultimately makes a decision based on what is best for the child. The Child Welfare Information Gateway discusses what best interest factors the judge looks at. These include:
- How joint conservatorship would affect the child’s emotional, physical and psychological health
- The ability of each parent to provide for basic needs and a safe home
- The physical and mental health of both parents
- The presence of domestic violence in the home
- Each parent’s previous contribution to the child’s upbringing.
Once the judge submits the conservatorship and possession orders, each parent must abide by the terms or face legal issues.