When families in Texas are dealing with child custody issues, the tensions can run high. After all, whether the couple is going through a divorce or was never married to begin with, child custody is probably the one issue that seems to be the most important as family law issues play out in court. So, what do our readers in Texas need to know about child custody?
Child custody basics
For starters, it is important to understand that most family law courts like to see parents work out arrangements on their own that work for their unique situations. Out-of-court negotiations may be possible when the parents are amicable enough to attempt to reach an agreement. But, oftentimes there are simmering tensions that make out-of-court negotiations almost impossible. When that occurs, the issue will likely need to go to the family law judge for a decision.
Child custody factors
To decide child custody, there are two main aspects to address: “physical” custody and “legal” custody. Physical custody refers to where the child will reside and spend time, for the most part. Legal custody refers to which parent – or both – will have the responsibility to make important decisions about such issues as where the child will attend school or church, what type of medical care the child will receive and what extracurricular activities the child will participate in, for example.
A court may award “sole” custody on these issues, or “joint” custody. Joint custody, which is typically the default stance of courts, recognizes that both parents need to be a part of the child’s life. Sole custody is less common, and awards one parent the sole opportunity to either have physical or legal custody of the child, or both.