Although divorcing parents in Texas face a number of unique and personal challenges, one thing unites all parents in divorce: the best interests of the child. Child custody concerns can bring about very strong emotions, and as a result, it may be difficult for divorcing parents to agree upon custody arrangements without the assistance of the legal system.
According to WiseGeek, this is addressed through a child custody hearing. Custody is broken down into physical custody and legal custody. Physical custody rights pertain to the parent who will actually house the child, and legal custody pertains to the parent who will be making decisions for the child. These two types of custody may be split evenly, equitably or not at all.
In order to determine which parent will receive what rights, a hearing will need to take place. This is initiated when a divorce is contested and divorcing parents can't agree upon custody terms. During the hearing, each parent, typically through the representation of an attorney, will provide information about current and expected living conditions, income, debts, access to healthcare and other factors that go into deciding who will receive what rights.
In certain circumstances, the child of divorcing parents may be asked to testify as well, and depending on the age of the child, he or she may also be given the chance to voice a preference as to which parent will receive custody rights. Once each parent has had a chance to lay out a case for custody, a judge will issue a verdict, and orders will then be recorded and provided to each parent.
Because child custody issues can carry long-lasting consequences for both parents and children, it's important to understand every detail of the process. This is why many parents choose to partner with a family law attorney to receive legal counsel when initiating a divorce. A family law attorney is not only a resource for representation in court but also for situations where one parent is being uncooperative in following custody orders.