Fighting to be actively involved in your children’s lives, to spend time with them, and to make decisions about their upbringing after divorcing from your spouse can be intense. If the custody battle is just that – a battle – then your case may need to go before a judge, who will determine a custody agreement that lays out your rights and responsibilities.
In order to make decisions about custody, the Texas family code requires that judges put the children’s best interests above all else. They will examine evidence, ask questions, and hear witnesses and arguments to get a clear picture of what the children’s best interests are, and whether you or the other parent (or both) are capable of obtaining custody.
This means that there are things that will encourage a judge to award you the time you deserve with your children, and there are things that will discourage them from doing so. Knowing what to expect can help you present your case in the best light and stand up for your relationship with your children.
Here are 6 things that can jeopardize your custody case in Texas, and what to if these pertain to you!
1 – Criminal Charges
If you have been convicted of criminal activity, it may lead a judge to believe you should not have a primary or very active role in your children’s lives, but that depends in large part on when the crime occurred, what the crime was, and whether or not you have demonstrated rehabilitation since then.
For example, if you were convicted of theft or a white collar crime or fraud over 5 years ago, and have no subsequent offenses, those charges on your record may not have a significant impact on your custody case. But if you were recently arrested for a DUI, or have a history of domestic violence, or any instances of sexual abuse of children, for example, that evidences behavior that could endanger your children, and a judge is not likely to rule in your favor.
2 – Allegations Of Family Violence
Even allegations of violence against your spouse, children, or other family members are likely to keep you from getting custody (until those allegations are proven false). The courts take child safety very seriously, and if there is evidence or probability that you will physically endanger them, they may not allow you to see or spend time with them.
3 – Drug Use
Recreational drug use, even for cannabis, is illegal in Texas. It’s not illegal in other states, but if the other parent accuses you of using illegal drugs, you may have to undergo a drug test; this test can’t proven when and where you used the drugs, only that you did, and then it is just your word against the other parent’s. Many judges in Texas have a perception that the use of illegal drugs represents a danger to children. They may see you in a different light – as less responsible or trustworthy, even if that is not the case – and they may be persuaded that you should not be given primary or equal custody of your children as a result.
4 – Allegations Of Mental Illness
Mental health allegations can be one of the most damaging blows to a custody case. If the other parent tells the court that you have a history of mental health issues or suicidal thoughts, have been admitted to a clinic in the past for suicidal ideation, take prescription drugs for mental illness, or should be taking prescriptions but are not, the judge will be hesitant to place the children in your care – or even allow you to spend time with the children – until the court determines you won’t pose a danger to them.
This may be true even if the allegations are completely false. You may be put on the defensive, having to prove your stability with psychological evaluations or have to undergo counseling for a certain period of time. The court’s don’t require perfect mental health, but they do require that a parent’s mental health challenges are being addressed and won’t endanger the children.
5 – Evidence Of Inconsistency
The courts value stability for children. If you have changed jobs frequently, or move around a lot, or have any history of being unable or unwilling to stay in one place for a length of time, they may decide that your lifestyle isn’t fit for children or that you aren’t able to provide for their needs.
6 – Parental Alienation
Especially in custody battles, it can be extremely difficult to maintain positive relations with your ex, but if you are caught intentionally trying to turn your children against the other parent, or are constantly verbally putting down or insulting the other parent in front of your children, the courts may actually consider this detrimental to your child. They see your ability to foster a good relationship between your children and their other parent as good for their well-being emotionally, so the opposite could deter them from placing your children with you.
Call Youngblood Law, PLLC
If you’re considering divorce, and any of the above things pertain to you, or if you are already navigating custody and these issues are arising, you need quality legal representation on your side. You can’t always control allegations, and if some of these things are true, you may need to work through them. However, the best way to prove to the court that you staying in your children’s lives is in their best interest is to work with an experienced Texas custody lawyer to make a compelling case.
At Youngblood Law, PLLC, we believe in new beginnings. We know this is an emotionally charged time, and you may be feeling scared or overwhelmed. Your children are your world – we get it! Our attorneys can explain all of your options and fight to protect your family’s future. We’ll fight for your parental rights and your relationship with your children. Call today to schedule a free consultation and learn more about how we can serve you!