Determining Child Custody in Texas: An Overview of the Law

Child custody can be one of the most emotionally charged and contentious issues that arise in the context of a divorce or separation. In Texas, the court is required to make a child custody determination based on the best interests of the child. In this article, we will provide an overview of the Texas laws on child custody, and the factors that the court considers when making a custody determination.

Types of child custody in Texas

In Texas, there are two types of child custody: physical custody and legal custody. Physical custody refers to where the child will live, while legal custody refers to the right to make decisions about the child’s upbringing, such as education, health care, and religious upbringing. The court can award sole or joint custody to one or both parents.

Sole custody means that one parent has the primary responsibility for the child’s physical and legal custody. Joint custody means that both parents share physical and legal custody of the child. The court can award joint physical custody (meaning that the child will spend significant time with both parents) or joint legal custody (meaning that both parents will have a say in the child’s upbringing), or a combination of both.

Factors considered by the court

When making a child custody determination, the court will consider the best interests of the child, taking into account a number of factors such as:

  • The child’s age and developmental needs
  • The child’s relationship with each parent
  • The ability of each parent to provide for the child’s physical and emotional needs
  • The child’s preference (if the child is old enough to express a preference)
  • The stability and availability of each parent
  • Any history of domestic violence or child abuse

The court will also consider any relevant agreements between the parties, such as a premarital or separation agreement.

Modification of child custody orders

Once a child custody order has been issued, it can be modified if there are significant changes in circumstances that warrant a change in custody. This can include a change in the child’s needs, a change in the parent’s ability to care for the child, or a move to a different location.

If one parent seeks to modify the custody order, they must file a petition with the court and provide evidence of the changed circumstances. The court will then consider the best interests of the child in determining whether to modify the custody order.


Child custody determinations in Texas are based on the best interests of the child, and the court will consider a number of factors when making a custody determination. It is important for parents to understand the laws on child custody in Texas, and to seek the guidance of a qualified attorney if they are involved in a custody dispute. By working with an experienced attorney, parents can ensure that their rights and the best interests of their child are protected.