When it comes to child custody decisions, parents often use their emotions to guide their decisions. When deciding custody arrangements, it is important that parents consider factors that relate to what is in the best interests of the child.
According to Texas Law Help, the courts use the word conservatorship instead of custody, and the conservator is the person who has custody of the child. Joint managing conservatorship is the preferred arrangement in the state, and this is when both parents make major decisions regarding the child. Within joint conservatorship, the parent who the child primarily lives with is the custodial parent, and the other is the non-custodial parent.
In rarer cases, the court will name a sole managing conservator, who makes all decisions about the child. The other parent is the possessory conservator.
To determine conservatorship, the judge takes into account what is in the child’s best interest. The Child Welfare Information Gateway outlines the factors that go into custody decisions. Major ones include
- Each parent’s physical and mental health
- Child’s physical and health needs
- Ability of each parent to provide adequate housing, clothing, food, education and medical attention
- Presence of violence or abuse
The court looks at the child’s relationship with siblings and other family members. The court also likes to keep the child’s routine as stable as possible, so often the current living situation remains the same as long as it is healthy.
The parents’ work schedules and other activities are considerations, as is their involvement in the child’s academic and extracurricular activities. If the child is old enough, the court may also consider his or her wishes.