The days when physical custody was simply awarded to the children’s mother under the belief that a mother had the best child-rearing skills are long gone. Today, the law does not favor one parent over the other.
Deciding the custodial arrangements for children is not an issue that is resolved quickly. A court typically begins its assessment with an examination of the status quo and looks at how the parties have been operating on their own. If both parents have been equally involved in the raising of the children by playing an active role in their lives, then there is probably a good chance that the situation is an appropriate one for joint physical custody. In fact, the Texas legislature has made it presumably in the child’s best interest to appoint both parents as Joint Managing Conservators.
When considering the options that are presented, a court considers several factors including
- Arrangements within the family in the past
- The positive effects and drawbacks of each proposed custody arrangement
- If the child is old enough, the wishes of the child
- Any history of domestic violence or drug abuse
When custody is unresolved between the parties, the courts usually require the spouses to attend mediation. The Mediator is charged with examining the situation and learning more about the relationships and synergy of the family in order to facilitate the parties in coming up with a mutually agreeable solution to any outstanding issues.
If parents cannot resolve the issues of custody by themselves or through some phase of the mediation process, the parties always have the right to have a hearing of the issues before the court. However, if the parties cannot agree on an arrangement for their children, custody litigation can be a long, complicated, and expensive process that can serve to increase the acrimony between the parties.
When the future of your children is at stake, you need to have an attorney with the experience to navigate the process and bring the important considerations to light.