“The best interest of the child shall always be the primary consideration of the court in determining the issues of conservatorship and possession of and access to the child.” This stipulation is stated in Title 5 Sec. 153.002 of the Texas Family Code.
The best interest of the child is the primary consideration of all state courts when determining child custody, visitation rights and child support issues during a divorce process. The best interest of the child, however, does not necessarily mean what the child wants, but what the court deems would be best for him/her.
In determining conservatorship or custodianship (of a child) the overarching standards for Austin and Texas courts are: (i) assurance that the child will have frequent and continuing contact with parents who have shown the ability to act in the best interest of the child; (ii) provide a safe, stable, and non-violent environment for the child; and, (iii) encourage parents to share in the rights and duties of raising their child after the parents have separated or dissolved their marriage.
The issue of conservatorship, besides being legally complex, can be the most emotionally involved and contentious of all divorce-related issues that need to be settled. It is for this reason that the courts encourage divorcing spouses to work together, settle their differences and try to arrive at an amicable agreement regarding child custody, otherwise, determining conservatorship issue will be left to the family court judge who will make all legal and binding decisions (in open court) after hearing both spouses lash at each other; the decision may not be likable to one or to both parents, or even to the child himself/herself as it will be based on what the judge sees to be right, fit and fair.
A child, upon reaching the age of 12, can sign a “Choice of Managing Conservator,” a document that will tell the court of his/her wishes concerning primary living arrangements. This document can persuade the court to decide based on a child’s preference, however, this is not always the case.
As soon as you or your spouse considers filing for divorce, settling all issues amicably will make a lot of difference in the outcome of all issues that need to be settled. Although you can surely agree or argue with your spouse, doing it with the help and guidance of a highly-competent child custody lawyer may just result in a more reasonable and acceptable agreement, as well as keep your divorce case outside the court.