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Legal Information: Texas


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November 5, 2020

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.”1

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.2

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.3

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.4

Note: Generally, the judge will favor granting both parents frequent contact with their child and have them share the responsibilities of raising their child.5  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.6

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