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Legal Information: Texas


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April 10, 2018

How will a judge make a decision about conservatorship (custody)?

When deciding who will have custody, a judge will try to make an arrangement that s/he thinks is in the "best interest of the child."*

Some factors the judge may consider are:

  • whether the physical, psychological, or emotional needs and development of the child will benefit from the appointment of joint managing conservators;
  • the ability of the parents to give first priority to the welfare of the child and reach shared decisions in the child's best interest;
  • whether each parent can encourage and accept a positive relationship between the child and the other parent;
  • whether both parents participated in child rearing before the filing of the suit; and the
  • the geographical proximity of the parents' residences.*1

In addition, if the child is 12 or older, the judge is supposed to interview with the child in chambers (the judge’s office) to find out the child’s wishes as to which parent s/he prefers to have the right to decide his/her primary (main) residence. If the child is under 12, the judge may interview the child about this but doesn’t have to. Also, a judge may interview a child of any age in chambers to find out the child's wishes as to possession, access, or any other issue in the case affecting the parent-child relationship.*2

Note: Texas law requires judges not to consider the sex or marital status of the person when determining conservatorship or possession of and access to the child.*3

Note: Generally, the judge will favor granting both parents frequent contact with their child and have them share the responsibilities of raising their child.*4  However, the judge will not grant joint managing conservatorship if s/he finds there is credible (believable) evidence of a family violence, present child neglect or physical or sexual abuse by one parent against the other parent, a spouse or a child.*5

* Tex. Fam. Code § 153.002
*1 Tex. Fam. Code § 153.134
*2 Tex. Fam. Code § 153.009
*3 Tex. Fam. Code § 153.003
*4 Tex. Fam. Code § 153.001
*5 Tex. Fam. Code § 153.004