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Factors influencing possession orders for young children

Family court judges in Texas often have special concerns about young children involved in divorces. Concerns about children's development and their abilities to bond with both of their parents lead judges to consider a variety of factors when determining possession orders.

The chief concern is protecting the best interests of the children of divorcing parents. Courts generally try to ensure that possession orders for children under three years old allow for continuous, predictable routines. Judges consider which parent has most consistently functioned as the child's caregiver when determining custody and visitation in order to avoid disrupting this routine. The court will also take into account the presence of siblings in order to give children under three a chance to bond with all the members of their families.

Some parents live near each other even after a divorce. The proximity of the two households to one another may increase the frequency of visitation depending on the non-custodial parent's circumstances at home. Divorcing parents may also have other family members or non-family members in their homes during times of possession. The presence of these people forces judges to consider their impact on children's development and safety when determining a possession order.

A divorced parent of a child younger than three years old may miss the opportunity to form a meaningful bond with their child if not allowed frequent, quality visits. While family court judges typically do their best to ensure children have healthy relationships with both of their parents, non-custodial parents must often be proactive in asserting their parental rights to ensure that they maximize their opportunities to cultivate ongoing relationships with their children. Family law attorneys may be able to advise parents on how to secure more favorable child custody arrangements so that they can remain a constant presence in their children's lives.

Source: Women's Law, "What factors will a judge consider for a child who is less than 3 years old?", December 15, 2014

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