Chapter 153 of the Texas Family Code requires family law judges in the Lone Star State to lean toward joint parenting arrangements when they are called upon to make child custody decisions, but the needs of the child remain their primary consideration. Judges may choose to award sole custody when one of the parents involved has drug or alcohol problems or associates with dangerous individuals. If neither parent is suitable, custody could be awarded to another relative or the children placed in state care.

Handling Disputes

Parents are usually able to put their differences aside when the welfare of their children is at stake. However, when child custody disputes do arise, they are often contentious. Parents who object to a joint custody arrangement sometimes do so because they believe their former husband or wife poses a threat to their children, and allegations of physical and even sexual abuse are common. Family law judges may order officials to investigate allegations of abuse, and parents who make false claims could have a lot of explaining to do.

Modifications to Custody Orders

Family law judges may also be called upon to modify child custody arrangements when the situations of the parents change. Once again, their guiding principle will be the best interests of the child. Parents who violate child custody orders may be found in contempt of court, which can lead to severe penalties.

Experienced family law attorneys may try to resolve child custody and visitation issues amicably whenever possible, and they might suggest taking an alternative approach when negotiations are unproductive. Mediators look for common ground, and they may remind couples that children fare better when parenting duties are shared. If you have legitimate concerns about the suitability of your child’s other parent, an attorney may be able to advocate in court for sole custody.