How Can I Strengthen My Case for Child Custody?

How Can I Strengthen My Case for Child Custody? Parents want what’s best for their children. The family courts in Texas want parents, as much as possible, to reach agreements for child custody on their own since a family court judge can never know your children as well as you do. Courts prefer for both parents to be involved in their children’s lives as much as possible and on as friendly a basis as possible.

If you and your spouse divorce or two parents separate, decisions must be made about which parent(s) will have legal and physical custody of their children. While there are some critical practical factors that judges use to decide contested child custody cases, such as preferring parents who place their child’s interests ahead of any conflicts they have with their former spouse or partner, judges rely heavily on the legal factors set forth in the Texas custody statute.

What are the different types of child custody arrangements in Texas?

First, it’s important to understand the terminology Texas uses when deciding custody disputes. A joint managing conservatorship (joint custody) means one parent will be the primary custodial parent, the other parent will have visitation rights, and both parents will share decision-making about their children’s education, medical care, and religious upbringing. Sole managing conservatorship (sole custody) is generally only awarded in rare cases where one parent is clearly unfit or unable to take care of their children.

If the parents cannot reach their own agreement about child custody, the court can enter a standard possession order (SPO) which determines the custody terms.

What legal factors determine child custody disputes in San Antonio?

Child custody orders involve the following key considerations:

  • The order will be based on the best interests of the child, not the parents. To increase the success of your child custody case, you need to convince the family court judge that your child’s wellbeing is paramount and that you are willing to work with the other biological parent to protect your child, ensure your child’s health and education, ensure your child has strong personal relationships including relationships with your in-laws, and show your understanding that your child will need to be disciplined.
  • The marital status or sex of the parents are not factors in child custody decisions.
  • A history of domestic violence by the other parent will likely strengthen your child support case. Domestic violence includes the intentional use of physical force or sexual abuse involving the child or parents committed within two years of the filing date of the custody lawsuit. Our San Antonio child custody lawyers will explain what evidence the court will consider.
  • The judge may interview the children. Children under 12 years of age are normally interviewed in the judge’s chambers.

Section 153.134 of the Texas civil statutes provides that the court, when determining the terms of a joint conservatorship will consider the following factors:

  • The physical, psychological, and emotional needs and development of the child.
  • Your ability and that of the other parent to “give first priority to the welfare of the child and reach shared decisions in the child’s best interest.”
  • Your ability to encourage that the other parent has a positive role in your child’s life and the ability of the other parent to do the same.
  • How much you and the other parent participated in raising your children before the custody dispute began.
  • How close you live to the other parent.
  • The preferences of the children who are 12 or older.
  • Other relevant factors.

What practical factors strengthen a parent’s child custody case?

Other factors the family judge will consider include the ages and the health of each parent and each child, each parent’s ability to care for their children, the child’s relationship with siblings and other relatives, and any special needs of a child.

The family court wants to know if your child will be in danger if living with the other parent. The family court does not want to know about your personal disputes with your ex-spouse or if the other parent doesn’t wash the dishes immediately after each meal.

Other practical suggestions include:

  • Don’t put your child in the middle of the custody dispute
  • Be careful how you use social media. Don’t disparage your spouse.
  • Address any issues that your spouse might use against you
  • Be sure to hire an experienced San Antonio family lawyer

What additional factors affect child custody when a child is less than three years of age?

The family judge will also consider these factors for children who are under three years of age (Section 153.254):

  • The care you gave your child before the current lawsuit
  • How your youngster will be affected by being separated from either parent
  • Each parent’s availability (parents who work from home or don’t work are generally more available) and willingness of each parent to care for the child
  • The physical medical, behavioral, emotional, and developmental needs of the child
  • Your health, emotional well-being, economic circumstances, and social conditions – and those of the other parent
  • Who else will/may be present while the child is with you
  • Whether the child has siblings
  • The child’s needs for “continuity of routine”
  • How close your residence is to the other parent’s residence
  • The need for a temporary possession order until a standard possession order can be arranged

The parent who is the primary physical custody is called the managing conservator while the parent who has visitation rights is called the possessory conservator. Texas law considers the possessory conservatorship rights of parents based on whether the distance between the parents is less than 100 miles apart or more than 100 miles apart.

What factors determine custody if one parent is in the military?

Active military members do have child custody rights. Normally, the civilian parent will raise the children but exceptions may apply. Child custody agreements and SPOs should consider the rights of military members to spend as much time as possible with their children as possible. Sometimes, a military member may arrange for a guardian to represent their interests in the children while the military member is serving the country. Find more information about military family law issues here.

Protecting and providing for your children is your top priority. At Grable Grimshaw PLLC, our San Antonio family lawyers understand what factors family court judges will consider, which ones they won’t, and what factors may hurt you. We work to show that each factor that helps your request to be a managing conservator of your child is as strong as possible. At every level and degree, we focus on showing your child’s best interests are your best interests. To discuss all aspects of child custody, call our office in San Antonio or fill out our contact form today to schedule a consultation.