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Looking at how child custody determinations are made in Texas, P.2

In our last post, we began looking at advocacy in child custody cases, particularly at the fact that the best interests of the child is the central consideration rather than the interests of the parents. State law, we noted, presumes joint custody is in the best interests of the child and judges are directed to consider a number of factors before settling on a joint custody arrangement.

Among the factors judges look at when evaluating the possibility of joint custody is the physical, psychological and emotional needs of the child and how these will be affected by joint custody. Courts will also consider the child’s preferences if the child is 12 years or older. 

Factors relating to the parents include: the ability of the parents to give first priority to caring for the child; the parents’ ability to cooperate in sharing decisions in the child’s best interests; the willingness of each parent to encourage a healthy relationship with the other parent; each parent’s previous contributions to the care of the children; and the geographic proximity of each parent to one another. Judges may also consider any other relevant factor when evaluating whether child custody is appropriate, the primary criteria always being what is in the best interests of the children.

For parents, advocacy must be geared to this central consideration. There are a variety of ways an experienced advocate can do this, particularly in contentious cases where one parent attempts to make the other look bad and thus influence the outcome of the child custody determination. We’ll continue exploring this idea in future posts.

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