Thousands of couples have to go through divorce every year in Texas. In 2012, there were over 80,000 divorces, an increase from the previous year, shows information from the Texas Department of State Health Services.
One of the most highly contested issues during a divorce is child custody. In many cases, the court will weigh the opinions of both parents and determine a living situation that is best for everyone. One parent receiving sole custody is fairly rare, and most of the time, a joint custody agreement comes into play. However, when kids are old enough to understand the ramifications of divorce, they naturally wonder if they get a say in the matter.
How old do children have to be?
In Texas, children of divorcing parents need to be at least 12 years old to have a say in a custody agreement. With that in mind, a court will not automatically approve a child's wishes. For example, if a child states she wants to live solely with her father, then the court may still produce a custody agreement that provides joint visitation.
Additionally, a child custody agreement may be up for changes when a child turns 12. For instance, if two parents divorce when the child was 10 years old, then the court may want to revisit the agreement upon the child's 12th birthday.
What factors are in play?
Regardless of the child's age, the court considers a number of factors for figuring out the best custody situation. These can include:
- Fitness of each parent to watch over the child
- Which parent is the primary caregiver
- Stability of each parent's home
- Emotional needs of the child
Every familial situation is different, so there are no cookie-cutter methods the court uses to determine child custody. When a child is old enough, he or she obviously gets a say, but it is important for all parties to go into the courtroom with open minds.