What are the standards in Texas custody and visitation cases?

Regardless of the type of lawyer you choose, the Texas Family Code sets out certain standards to guide the Courts in acting as the voice of reason in matters involving child custody and visitation.
Standards in Child Custody and Visitation in Texas

While some areas of law involve your business or your transactions and contracts as a consumer, family law involves your life and the people and things you love and cherish most. This makes family law one of the most emotionally charged areas of law practice and can result in clients’ tendencies toward reactions and actions based on emotions instead of logic, including hostility toward the opposing side. Furthermore, many clients want their lawyers to mirror their anger when dealing with opposing counsel. The trouble is – the amount of time you and your lawyers spend bickering correlates directly to the amount you spend on legal fees. This is why it is so important to carefully choose your legal counsel.

When you are overwhelmed by difficult decisions about your children and property and drained by the emotional toll of a divorce or custody matter, a skilled and compassionate lawyer can serve as a level head and voice of reason to help smooth things over in order to reach an amicable resolution that is most favorable to both sides and less burdening to your pocket book.

Regardless of the type of lawyer you choose, the Texas Family Code sets out certain standards to guide the Courts in acting as the voice of reason in matters involving child custody and visitation.

Best Interest of the Child Standard

One of the most common standards that you are probably familiar with is the “best-interest of the child” standard. Texas Family Courts use this standard to determine child custody and visitation schedules. The Texas Family Code states, “the best interest of the child shall always be the primary consideration of the court in determining the issues of conservatorship and possession of and access to the child” §153.002. The TFC intentionally leaves the definition of a “child’s best interest” vague in order to allow courts to determine what is best for each child who comes before them. Though the TFC sets out a list of factors Judges may consider, the list is not intended to be exhaustive, in order to give Judges the necessary leeway to make decisions as they see fit based on the circumstances of each case. Some of the factors set out by the TFC include: the child’s preference once the child reaches the age of twelve, and the child’s current and future emotional and physical needs. 

Additional considerations the Court may consider include a parent’s ability to care for the child, the stability of the parent’s home, availability of outside support to assist the parent in the best interest of the child, and any act or omission of a parent that indicates the parent-child relationship is not proper.

Standard possession order

Once a Court determines conservatorship (or custody) of a child, there is a rebuttable presumption that the standard possession order found in the Texas Family Code is in the child’s best interest §153.252. You see, this standard must adhere to public policy, which includes frequent contact between a child and both of his/her parents (unless it has been proven that such contact would not be in the child’s best interest). As such, the standard possession order was designed to be in the child’s best interest by providing the minimum time of possession of a child for a parent named as the possessory conservator or a joint managing conservator.

For more information about your rights in cases involving custody and visitation, visit our child custody page, or contact us at (713) 333-4430.

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