The issue of which parent a child will live after divorce is primarily decided based on “the best interest of the child” standard in the state of Texas. While children’ preferences are considered, they do not have the final say in determining their custodial arrangements. In this blog post, we will explore the factors involved in determining child custody in Texas and the role children play in the decision-making process.
The Best Interest Standard: In the state of Texas, the court uses the best interest standard to determine custody arrangements during divorce proceedings. This standard ensures that the decision made aligns with what is considered most beneficial for the child’s overall well-being. Factors such as the stability of the home environment, the ability to provide proper care, who is the primary caretaker, and the child’s existing bond with each parent, often lend to the Judge’s ultimate decision.
Child’s Age and Involvement: The involvement of the child in the custody decision-making process varies depending on their age. If a child is over the age of 12, they have the right to confer with the Judge privately in chambers. However, if the child is 12 years old or younger, the Judge has the discretion to decide whether or not to confer with a child under 12.
While a child’s preference may be considered, it is important to note that the Judge retains the final decision-making authority. The Judge will evaluate the child’s preference, along with other factors, that influence the child’s best interest. It is essential to ensure that the child’s decision is not solely based on temporary emotions or a desire to “punish” one parent.
Children’s Understanding and Immaturity: Children are still developing emotionally and intellectually; their desires may be driven by immediate gratification rather than long-term considerations. Therefore, the court does not solely rely on a child’s preference but considers various other factors that contribute to the child’s overall well-being. The Judge will hear from all the parties and consider all evidence that is for or against a child’s best interest.
Parental Alienation and Bribery: Sometimes, a parent may attempt to influence a child’s decision by promising privileges or rewards or by speaking badly about the other co-parent. This behavior is known as parental alienation. It is crucial for parents to focus on what is genuinely in the child’s best interest rather than using enticement or bribery to manipulate the child’s choice. This type of behavior can be detrimental to a child and the court’s typically do not respond well to that parent’s bad co-parenting behavior.
Child Support Considerations: When a child changes their primary residence, child support arrangements may be affected. In Texas, if custody is shifted, the court can order the non-custodial parent to pay child support. It is important to note that child support obligations are still present, regardless of which parent the child resides. Both parents will continue to fulfill their financial responsibilities towards their child’s needs.
While children in Texas can express their preferences regarding custodial arrangements after divorce, the ultimate decision is based on the best interest of the child.
Martinez Legal, P.C. is available to serve your legal needs in family law, CPS cases, estate planning and business formations. We have two locations to serve you: 1317 E. McKinney Street, Ste. 109 Denton, Texas 76209 , 940-320-2922 and 203 Walnut Street #103 Decatur, Texas 76234 940-453-7816