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What you need to know about child custody

As parents, you and your soon-to-be former spouse are each deeply invested in your relationship with your children. Perhaps it will come as no surprise to you, therefore, that we have found that the most emotionally intense issue to arise during a divorce is child custody. 

We understand that processes involved in a divorce, such as custody determination, may be unfamiliar to you. Therefore, we believe that it may help for you to know what you can expect from the process, as well as the expectations of you. 

  1. There are actually two kinds of custody

When most people think of child custody, they think in terms of where the child spends the most time. This is actually the child’s physical custody. Parents can share physical custody, or one parent may have sole custody while the other has visitation. 

The other type of custody is legal custody. This refers to your decision-making responsibility in regard to your child’s life. Even when one parent has sole physical custody, courts typically grant legal custody to both parents equally. 

  1. Courts do not favor one parent over the other in custody decisions

Contrary to what many people think, there is not an inherent advantage for either the mother or the father in custody proceedings. Experts who study the effects of divorce on children agree that it is generally beneficial for both parents to maintain a significant place in their lives. However, circumstances can arise in individual cases that make this impossible or impractical. In these cases, the court makes its decision based on the best interests of the child or children. 

  1. It is preferable for you and your spouse to work out your own custody arrangement

You and your spouse may work out your own custody arrangement and submit it to the court for approval. The term for this is a proposed arrangement, and Texas courts find it vastly preferable. However, not all couples are able to make arrangements on their own. It then becomes necessary for the court to intervene.