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Understand child custody before heading to court

On Behalf of | Apr 6, 2021 | Child Custody |

If you’re preparing to litigate a divorce in a Texas court, you’ll want to be as informed as possible regarding numerous topics, especially if you’re a parent. Like all good parents, you want what’s best for your kids. This makes child custody a top priority in a divorce. The more you learn about such issues ahead of time, the less stressful it might be to navigate the legal process.

Child custody is a broad term that refers to multiple issues, particularly in a divorce. If you don’t know what types of custody there are and what the implications of each might be, you won’t know what type of petition to file or requests to make in court. Protecting your parental rights and your children’s best interests are key factors toward achieving a fair settlement.

There are numerous types of child custody

No matter what specific issues led to you and your spouse deciding to go your separate ways, as parents, you undoubtedly both want to make sure your children are well cared for as they learn to adapt to a new lifestyle. The following list shows various types of custody that are pertinent to divorce:

  • Physical custody
  • Legal custody
  • Sole custody
  • Joint custody

You might have a friend or relative who has gone through a divorce and requested a specific type of custody. Every family situation is unique, which means your needs or your children’s needs might be different from your friend or family member’s circumstances.

Physical custody pertains to residence

One of the first things you and your ex must decide when filing for divorce is where your children are going to live. Physical custody is the legal term that refers to a child’s residence after divorce. Such issues can be complex, especially if you plan on moving out of state or will be relocating to a new school district because of your job.

Legal custody is about making decisions

When a divorce occurs, parents must sign a legal custody agreement. As opposed to physical custody, which refers to where your children are going to live, legal custody pertains to decision-making authority. Who will have the authority to make life decisions on behalf of your children regarding education, health, faith and other important issues?

If you believe your ex is an unfit parent

Perhaps your ex has an addiction to drugs or alcohol. Maybe he or she was physically or emotionally abusive to you or your children during the marriage. This is important information that the court will want to know in order to make child custody decisions that keep your children’s best interests in mind.

If you believe that your ex places your children at risk, you may want to consider seeking sole custody of your kids. Sole custody means that you would have physical and legal custody of your children. The court would decide whether your ex should have visitation rights. Such rights may be restricted or prohibited at the court’s discretion.

Joint custody is typically best in most cases

If there’s no cause for seeking sole custody in your divorce, you can agree to a joint (or shared) custody arrangement. The Texas family court typically believes this is the base type of arrangement to help children cope with divorce. In a joint child custody plan, you and your ex would equally share all parental responsibilities and obligations.

You can customize your child custody plan to meet your family’s immediate and long-term needs and divorce-related goals.