How To Win Custody of a Child in Texas

Here’s how to be in a great position to WIN Custody

Among the reasons these divorces are so traumatic is that child custody becomes a game changer. Parents wonder if they will lose their child or if their relationship will be forever altered. Under these conditions, you want to be certain that you have the most up-to-date information. Learn what to expect in your child custody case when a Texas judge decides the future of your family.

Divorce and child custody are among the most stressful life occurrences, according to the Holmes and Rahe Life Change Stress Units scale, with divorce ranking second. According to this scale, the only thing more stressful than divorce is the death of a spouse.

In deciding the best interests of the child in child custody, how you feel about the other parent is not a factor. But the reality is that you can’t always do that. As in the preceding example, if another parent is inhibiting your children’s best interests, a Texas judge will not tolerate it and will award exclusive custody to the person who is participating the most in the children’s best interests. If one parent’s behavior is consistent and constant, the scenario may be classified as high conflict, and sole custody may be awarded.

1. Facilitate the ‘Other’ Parent’s Relationship with the Kids.

This is far and away the most critical factor in custody cases and yet it’s often a tough needle to thread because basically, you’re talking about promoting/supporting the other parent’s relationship with your kids while your relationship with that other parent might be breaking down simultaneously (divorce). But, this is a specific factor in Illinois child custody law and I guarantee you judges have this question foremost in their heads, “If I give custody to parent X, is she going to promote parent Y’s relationship with their daughter?” I nearly always ask one or both parties when they’re testifying to talk about the other parent’s strengths because if you have a parent who can’t even say 1 supportive thing about the other parent do you really think he’s going to support mom’s parenting time going forward?

2. Be Involved in Your Kid’s Life.

What’s your track record? This is often a key factor I consider when advising a client regarding his/her likelihood of success in a custody battle. You need to know the teachers, doctors, and coaches who are working with your children. You need to attend (and have a history of attending) the conferences, appointments, and games. Perhaps your attendance is less than 100% but if it’s nearly non-existent then you’re not winning custody and you likely shouldn’t even try to win custody.

3. Have a Support System

You typically want 3 types of witnesses at a custody trial:

  1. The party
  2. Objective 3rd-party like teacher/coach/church leader
  3. Extended family member, close support system person.

We obviously can’t control the family we’re born into but a Court still loves to hear from a grandparent or sibling of the parent who’s a major, supporting influence to a parent and a major, supporting influence to the kids too. I have a great memory of a strong, Irish grandmother being a critical witness on behalf of a client of ours in some successful custody-related litigation a few years back, and have a case right now where our client’s parents are a major part of the kid’s life and will help him win custody in his case too.

4. Education Matters

First, let’s understand that judges are lawyers and lawyers have a lot of education so I think there’s surely some pro-education bias in all situations. Second, I have observed that in cases with non-white clients or in lower-income households generally that judges REALLY want to see who is the parent will or won’t promote education as an important factor in a child’s future. We just won custody for a guy last month and the ‘education issue’ was the reason why…when mom had custody of the 13-year-old daughter the daughter missed 50% of school days. The court made a custody change to our client.

5. Parental Maturity Matters (child discipline).

I’m not saying that the harshest discipline wins, but, I am saying the parent with a structure and plan for discipline wins. I’ve seen more than a few times where a parent is too soft and just wants to be a friend of their child. I helped a guy win custody of his son 2-3 years ago where the mom still lived with her parents, was way too emotional, and was simply unwilling to really PARENT.

A child custody award is an IMPORTANT deal that can really change the trajectory of a kid’s life. It’s not fun while you’re in it but it can be worth the fight oftentimes.

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