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Divorce involves the resolution of several complex and, often, emotional issues. Spousal support, or alimony, needs to be addressed. Division of the marital property also needs to be resolved. One of the most difficult and personal issues that must be decided, however, is child custody. Even the most amicable of divorces can quickly become contentious when it comes to child custody. While parties to a divorce are encouraged to reach a mutual agreement regarding issues incident to divorce, such as child custody, this often does not happen. When the parties cannot reach a decision on their own, the court will step in.

What Factors are Considered in Determining Child Custody?

In child custody determinations, among other decisions that will impact a child, a court will render a decision based on the “best interests of the child” standard. This means that a court, in deciding custody arrangements for a child, will attempt to resolve the issue in a way that the child’s emotional, mental, and physical needs are best met. While this can mean that both parents retain equal rights and decision making authority over the care and upbringing of a child, referred to as a “joint conservatorship,” this is not always the case.

If a joint conservatorship is not established, a sole conservatorship make be established in which one parent is awarded sole physical and legal custody of the child. The conservator retains the authority to make decisions regarding the child that may include medical care, education, and legal needs. When a joint conservatorship is established, these decisions must be made together.

In determining what will be in the best interest of the child regarding custody arrangements, the court will weigh several factors that may include:

  • The age of the child
  • The physical and emotional needs of the child (including any particular physical or mental vulnerabilities of the child)
  • Each parent’s ability to provide health and nutritional care of the child
  • Each parent’s ability to appropriately discipline and supervise the child (or make arrangements for this, such as arranging for day care)
  • Any history of physical or mental abuse
  • Each parent’s access to extended family or a support system
  • The stability of each parent’s home

When turning to these factors, and other factors the court deems relevant to the child custody analysis, the court will look at the present state of these factors as well as future circumstances that are likely to arise. Additionally, courts will generally consult with the child regarding custody preferences should the child be over 12 years of age.

Family Law Attorneys

The resolution of child custody in a divorce case will go right to the heart of your family. It can, arguably, have the biggest impact on your post-divorce life. At Navarrete & Schwartz, we take all matters associated with the divorce process seriously, and child custody is at the top of our list. We understand the profound impact the resolution of these issues can have on our clients. That is why we are so dedicated to zealously representing our clients and advocating on their behalf. We are proud to serve the residents of Midland, Texas. Contact us today.