One of the most difficult parts of the divorce process is figuring out child custody, known as conservatorship in Texas. The parents can agree on a parenting plan that works for them and then submit it to the court.
If parents cannot come to an agreement, the court will decide on conservatorship, and the judge takes various factors into consideration.
According to the Texas State Law Library, there is a presumption that parents will share custody and be joint managing conservators. This does not necessarily mean that the child will live equally with each parent, but it does mean that both parents will share responsibilities regarding decisions made about education, religion, medical care and other important aspects of the child’s life.
Although courts generally see joint custody as being beneficial for the child, it is not an automatic decision. If one parent is absent, or if there is abuse or violence in the family, the judge will grant one parent sole custody.
The judge also considers additional factors when making conservatorship decisions. Once children turn 12, they can state their wishes in front of a judge in regard to which parent they would like to live with. However, the judge’s decision ultimately depends on what is best for the child.
The Child Welfare Information Gateway discusses the variety of factors involved with custody decisions:
- The mental and physical abilities of each parent to provide a stable and safe home
- The current living situation
- The age and needs of the child
- The child’s relationships with each parent and other family members
Even if the judge grants sole conservatorship, he or she will often allow the other parent visitation rights, either supervised or unsupervised.