Are you currently going through a legal divorce in Texas? You may be wondering what your options are for the custody of your children. In our state, there are two main types of child custody: full custody and joint custody.
Let’s unpack the legal differences between full custody vs joint custody in Texas so that you can make the best decision of which option to pursue to support you and your family.
Types of Custody Arrangements in Texas
Full custody, known as sole custody or a sole managing conservatorship in Texas, is when one parent has the legal right to make all decisions regarding the child’s welfare, including decisions about education, medical care, and religious upbringing. The other parent might have visitation rights but will not have a say in how the child is raised.
Joint custody, known as joint managing conservatorship, is when both parents share the legal right to make decisions about the child’s welfare. This type of shared custody arrangement can be categorized as either joint physical custody or joint legal custody.
- Joint physical custody means that the child lives with both parents equally.
- Joint legal custody gives both parents the right to make decisions about the child’s upbringing.
Many joint custody cases involve a combination of both joint physical and joint legal custody. But, joint custody does not necessarily mean that the child’s time will be split evenly between both parents.
For example, what often happens is that both parents have a say in major decisions about the child’s upbringing. Yet, the child’s primary residence will be with one parent (custodial parent) while the other parent (non-custodial parent) will provide support through court-ordered child support payments.
The custody agreement that’s best for your family will depend on many factors, including the child’s age, the distance between the two homes, work schedules, and more.
However, if you believe that shared custody is not in your child’s best interest, then you will need to present a very strong and compelling argument to obtain sole custody of your child.
Evidence Required to Obtain Sole Custody in Texas
It is generally believed that children do best when they have a close relationship with both parents. That’s why the family court system prefers joint custody arrangements whenever possible when it comes to full custody vs. joint custody in Texas. All is not lost, though and there are circumstances in which the court may award sole custody to one parent.
To obtain full custody of your children in Texas, you will need to prove that joint custody would not be in the best interests of the child. Evidence that can be used to prove your position includes the following:
- Domestic violence.
- Drug abuse.
- Sexual abuse.
- Severe mental health issues.
- Patterns of neglect that have damaged the child.
If the other parent has a history of any of these things, you may be able to get full custody of the child. No matter the situation, the burden of proof will be on the parent seeking full custody to show that it is in the best interests of the child.
Simply being the child’s primary caregiver is not enough to get full custody – you will need to provide hard evidence to back up your claim. This may include medical records, school records, eyewitness testimony, and more.
– It is important to note that, even if you are able to prove that the other parent is unfit, the court may still award joint custody if it believes that is in the best interests of the child.
For example, if the other parent has recently cleaned up their act and is now able to provide a safe and stable home, the court may feel that the child would benefit from having a relationship with both parents.
Advocating for Joint Custody in the State of Texas
If your child’s other parent is seeking full custody, you may need to defend yourself against their claims in court. To do so, you must show that you are capable of caring for your child and that joint custody would be in the best interests of the child.
You may need to provide evidence that supports the following conclusions:
- You are able to provide a stable home environment.
- You are involved in your child’s life.
- You are able to make responsible decisions about the child’s welfare.
You will also need to refute any claims that you are abusive, neglectful, or otherwise unfit to care for your child. The difficulty and specifics of this will depend on the credibility of the evidence against you.
Before you show up to court, it is important to consult with an experienced family law attorney. Your attorney can help you gather the evidence you need to present a strong case for joint custody.
Full Custody vs Joint Custody in Texas: Work With an Attorney
Trying to represent yourself in a custody case is not advisable. The Texas family court system is complex, and the stakes are high. If you don’t have a solid understanding of child custody laws and how to apply them in your favor, you could end up losing custody of your children altogether. Or, if you are seeking full custody, you might only obtain joint custody.
As an experienced child custody lawyer, I know how to build a strong case for joint custody or sole custody. I will work on your behalf to navigate the legal system and give you the best chance of obtaining a favorable outcome.
If you are facing a custody battle, don’t try to go it alone. I currently help parents in Fort Bend County, Brazoria County, and Harris County with custody situations. If you live in one of these counties, contact my law firm today to schedule a consultation.
Call my offices at 281-944-5485 or 979-267-7660 to discuss your situation. I will help you understand your legal options and fight for your parental rights at every turn.