Will the “tender years doctrine” limit your custody of your baby? 

On Behalf of | Nov 26, 2021 | Child Custody

When parents divorce, they usually both want to continue parenting. The younger the child, the harder it can be for parents to share custody fully. In fact, for many years, there was an assumption that sharing custody of children under the age of three was detrimental to the child’s emotional and psychological development. 

This belief, called the “tender years doctrine,” often meant that one parent would receive sole custody if a divorce involved children still too young for preschool. Do you have to worry about this doctrine if you want to divorce but your children are still toddlers or infants?

The idea about what is best for the children has changed in recent years

Psychologists have long understood that the strength of the attachment between a child and their primary caregiver plays a major role in their social and emotional development. The tender years doctrine sought to help support children by protecting that important bond. 

Unfortunately, the use of sole custody meant that protecting one parental bond often severed the other. These days, even with children under the age of three, the Texas family courts often prefer shared custody solutions. Provided that neither parent presents a threat to the children due to neglect or other issues, both parents can expect to plan an active role from the earliest months of a child’s life. 

You and your ex may be able to arrange a visitation schedule or even overnight custody exchanges depending on the age of the child and their nutritional needs. Learning about how Texas handles custody matters is important for those considering divorce.

FindLaw Network
Heidi L. Heinrich
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