WHAT IS THE CUSTODY LAW IN TEXAS? ATTORNEY JEFF ANDERSON EXPLAINS

Things are done a little differently in Texas, and family law code is no exception. Here’s what you should know about the family law codes regarding custody in Texas.

In the State of Texas, a divorce with children cannot be granted without settling what is in the best interest of children involved and the division of the community property.

What Does the Emphasis on Division of Community Property & Children’s Interest Mean for a Divorcing Couple?

It means the divorce cannot go forward until a custody agreement is made OR a judge designates custodial roles for the parents. In the event that both parents cannot determine a mutual plan for child custody in Dallas, the court will make the decision. Depending on the age of the child, the court will often weigh the wishes of the child when making its decision.

What is Best Interest of the Child?

In all child custody cases in Texas, custody is determined by what is believed to be the “best interest” of the child. The court also takes into consideration that either overruling or granting the child’s wishes could be against the child’s best interest. The determination can depend greatly on the child’s age and maturity.

Defining Custodial Roles

Custody is generally thought of as either Sole Managing Conservatorship or Joint Managing   
Conservatorship. Unless proved otherwise, courts will presume joint managing conservatorship (aka shared custody) to be in the children’s best interest.

Sole managing conservatorship means that one parent has the majority of the legal rights or sole custody regarding the children and makes the majority of the substantive parental decisions.

In most, though not all cases, the child will reside with one parent while the other parent will have specified periods of access.

Joint Managing Conservatorship means that both parents share the children’s substantive parental decisions. Despite popular belief, “joint custody” does not mean the child spends half of the time with one parent and the other half with the other parent. In fact, joint custody has little to do with the actual time either parent spends with their children. Instead, it relates to the legal issues associated with raising children. In some cases, the most important legal right is the establishment of domicile, or the determination of where the child will physically live.

What are Domicile Restrictions?

Domicile restrictions are specific guidelines imposed by the parent without primary custody on where
the child or children can live. Although one parent may have the right to establish the residence of the children, that residence must be located within a certain geographic boundary. That boundary can be a school district, city, county, state or even country. Most often, the children’s residence is limited to a county or group of counties. Over the past several years, domicile restrictions have become more and more popular. However, every case does not necessarily require a domicile restriction.