One of the most difficult decisions during a divorce is who gets custody of the children. There are three types of custody in Texas: joint custody, sole custody, and split custody. Custody is the legal term for how a child will spend his time between parents (or other guardians). Custody decisions are never considered to be final. As circumstances change, you can come back to the court to request changes in both custody and visitation rights.
When determining custody, the Texas legal code does not favor either the mother or father. Instead, the law focuses on the relationship of each parent with the child. Relatives such as uncles or grandparents can seek custody of the children; however, the court is more likely to favor granting custody to the child’s natural parents. Until your divorce is official, both spouses must abide by temporary custody decisions. Temporary custody is not an initial award of custody. It refers to who has custody for a limited period of time, while you wait for the court to hold a hearing. The court will determine temporary custody based on the “best interests” of the child.
The court’s final custody decision will be either be sole custody or joint custody. Joint custody is very common in situations where both spouses want to retain physical and legal rights to their children. In this situation, both parents may have shared legal custody and/or shared physical custody. Shared physical custody could involve two residences for the child. Or it could involve having only one residence for the children, with the parents living there on a rotating basis.
In rare circumstances, the court may decide to award split custody. Split custody usually happens in situations where there are two or more children. With a split custody decision, each parent gets full physical custody over at least one child. When awarding split custody, the court will look at a number of different factors, including the age of the children, and the child’s preference for a particular parent.