The idea that you will have to spend time with your ex every few days for the foreseeable future may make you feel angry or frustrated. However, if you have children together, that is likely what the future holds.
There is a rebuttable presumption in Texas divorces that shared custody is what is in the best interests of the children. Unless the parents have some compelling evidence to present to the courts, a judge is unlikely to give one parent sole custody if both parents are willing and able to show up for their children.
Numerous elements influence how a judge rules in a contested custody case. Sometimes, the children’s wishes can play a role.
How old do your children need to be to have a say?
Generally speaking, children need to be at least 12 years of age to be sufficiently intelligent and mature to have a say in custody matters when their parents separate. Even then, a judge will consider the maturity of the child and the relationship they have with both parents and make a decision that they feel is best for the child, which won’t necessarily be what the child requests.
It can be hard for children to speak up in custody proceedings. Even if they don’t have to talk in court and only need to write a letter to the judge or speak with them in private, the children may worry that their preference will have a lasting impact on their relationship with their parents.
Handling custody without involving the children can be a good move
Children may find their involvement in custody proceedings or divorce court in general very stressful. You and your ex have an opportunity to shield your children from the hardest parts of your divorce by making what the children need your main priority.
If you can cooperate and settle your custody disputes outside of court, then the children will never have to make their wishes known or even hear the two of you arguing about custody issues. As hard as it can be for parents to cooperate about shared custody arrangements, that may be what is ultimately best for the children in the family.
Understanding the Texas approach to custody and also the psychological impact of divorce on children may motivate you to keep the focus on what is best for your children as you and your ex work toward the end of your marriage.