If you are going through a divorce and are wondering what is going to happen when it comes to child custody, it can be hard to predict the future. However, we at Law Offices of Jimmy Carter are here to provide some clarity and keep you in the loop on what judges are looking for when it comes to making a custody decision. At the core of the matter, every state (including Texas) has a “best interest of the child” approach when it comes to making these decisions. However, this is very subjective and can change from case to case. There are a few factors that every judge will consider while making their decision.
The Age of the Children
While this does not determine a whole lot, it can make a difference. Some judges do still believe that younger children should stay with their mother, especially if the mother is the primary caregiver in the home. Should the child in question be still nursing, they will almost certainly stay with the mother.
Parent’s Living Situation
This can also be a tricky decision, but it is a factor. Some judges will choose to grant the parent who stays in the family home custody over the kids, as this allows them to keep some stability and continuity in their lives. With this in mind, sometimes the parent with custody is awarded the family home because of this decision. If you find yourself staying with a friend during the divorce until you get back on your feet, it is unlikely for you to receive primary custody of your kids. If custody of your kids is a major priority, then make sure to keep your living situation in mind. The proximity of your home to your spouse’s might affect the judge’s decision as well. If you are close, they will be more likely to order a time-sharing plan that will allow both parents to have time with their kids. The location of their schools and extracurriculars may also be a factor in this decision.
You need to be able to cooperate with your spouse about your parenting schedule. The judge will look at your record of working together on your parenting schedule. The judge will also want to know if you badmouth your spouse in front of the kids or get in the way of visitation. If so, your spouse is much more likely to get the upper hand in a dispute. Any parent who is actively trying to push their kids away from the other parent is going to be penalized for doing so.
The Relationship with the Kids Before the Divorce
Sometimes those parents who haven’t spent much time with the kids before the divorce suddenly want to be more involved once the marriage has ended. This is a valid reason, and the judge will certainly take their request to be involved in the children’s lives to be genuine. However, the judge will also take some time to evaluate this shift and make sure that the custody request isn’t solely made to “win” over the other parent.
Children who are about 12 or older may be able to express a preference about custody and visitation. Even if the child doesn’t tell the judge directly, there are often custody evaluators who can ask children these preferences and communicate these with the judge.
Continuity and Stability
When it comes down to it, many judges understand that divorce can be a very difficult time for children. With that in mind, judges don’t want to pile on more changes while children deal with the divorce transition. If your goal is to keep things as close to how they are presently, the judge may look upon that with favor for the sake of the children.
Law Offices of Jimmy Carter
If you are looking for a McKinney family lawyer who can help you understand the custody process and assist you as you seek the best possible outcome, then it is time to get in touch. Schedule your consultation today, and we can talk you through your options, as well as learn more about your current concerns and goals. We look forward to working with you and your family!