In Texas, the best interest of the child is always the determining factor when a court awards child custody. Texas courts presume joint legal custody, known as conservatorship, to be best in most situations, unless you can prove otherwise. To obtain full custody, a parent needs to prove that it is in the best interest of the child. Courts will consider which parent is in a better position to offer the best physical and emotional support for the child, each parent's ability to encourage and foster a positive relationship between the child and the other parent, and how much each parent participated in the child rearing before the divorce.
Consult with a divorce attorney to find out what your options may be. Texas courts consider a variety of factors when determining custody. If you have specific reasons for believing that your child is better off living with you full time, explain this to your attorney so it can be put in the child custody petition. If the other parent has not participated in the daily responsibilities associated with caring for your child, a court will take that into consideration.
Consider what is in the best interest of your child, and if possible, make an agreement with the other parent regarding custody arrangements. Texas courts commonly grant parents parenting plans; although if the parents cannot agree, the court will decide. Coming to a custody agreement may minimize the amount of emotional damage to the child resulting from the divorce.
Tell the court about any abusive behavior or drug and alcohol dependency issues that the other parent may have. You will need proof, which may be provided in the form of documentation from a doctor, police officer or social worker. If your evidence is convincing, the court may award you full custody.
Ask your child who they want to live with, and abide by their wishes. If your child is over 12 years of age, Texas law will allow them to choose which parent they would like to live with full time. If the parents do not live close to one another, shared custody may not be an option and it may be best for the child to live with one parent full time.
After the court has determined custody, the parents are bound by it, although the order can be changed if one of the parents petitions the court for a modification. For the court to grant a modification, the parent requesting the change must show that a substantial change in circumstances requires a modification of custody.