No parent is perfect, and there is no expectation of perfection when courts are deciding child custody in Texas. However, the reality is that there are factors that can work against a parent seeking custody.
A child’s happiness and health are at stake, so the courts will make custody decisions based on what is in your child’s best interests. Below are some issues that could create problems for a parent seeking physical or legal custody in Texas.
- You, your partner or others who would be with the child have a history of violent behavior. The courts take any previous incidents of violence very seriously. If a child is afraid of you, or if someone makes threats to your child’s safety while the child is in your care, the courts may not award you primary custody, or they may put several restrictions on your parenting time.
- You do not currently have a meaningful relationship with the child. Courts will look at the existing relationship between each parent and child. The better your relationship is, and the more involved you already are, the better your chances of getting primary custody.
- You have a substance abuse problem. Parents addicted to drugs or alcohol may not be capable of caring for a child, which could mean loss or reduction of visitation time.
- You will not cooperate with the other parent. It is typically in a child’s best interests to have a relationship with both parents. If you are not willing to coparent by working with the other parent, your visitation or potential of being the joint managing conservator with the right to determine the primary residence of the child could be jeopardized.
- You cannot provide a safe, supportive environment for your child. Any parent seeking the right to determine the primary residence of the child will want to be sure they have a safe home, access to adequate nutritional food and healthcare, and the ability to supervise a child and meet his or her basic needs. If you cannot provide these things, placement with you may not be in a child’s best interests.
If you are faced with one or more of these issues, and you are seeking the right to determine the primary residence of your child, expect there to be challenges. But do not lose hope.
There are ways to improve your situation and your standing with the court. You might do this with counseling, parenting classes or other resources that can help you become a healthier and better parent. Again, you do not need to be perfect to be a parent, but you cannot be a parent who puts your child in harm’s way.