In any case involving a child (divorce, modification, or suit affecting parent-child relationship) the primary consideration is always the best interest of the child. The Texas Family Code sets forth certain presumptions that can be used or argued against in determining conservatorship, allocation of rights and duties, possession and access, child support, and medical support. In most cases, the parents will be appointed joint managing conservators. When someone uses the term “primary” or says “I have custody,” what he/she is usually referring to is having the right to determine the primary residence of the child. The parties can be awarded joint decision making, independent decision making, or exclusive decision making regarding education decisions for the child, psychiatric and psychological treatment of the child, and decisions regarding invasive medical and dental procedures for the child. Generally, one parent will have the exclusive right to determine the primary residence of the child, and a standard possession order will be awarded to the parties.
Child custody cases are extremely fact-specific. Third party witnesses, records from the child’s school and treating doctors, and correspondence between the parties are all crucial in determining which parent has the greater ability to be consistently involved with the child, to demonstrate good parenting skills, to put the child’s needs before their own, and to possess the ability to co-parent with the other party.