I have been deep in researching custody battles in our great state of Texas. At the end of October (2017), I’ll be releasing my 2nd online course, Winning the Social Study, which will help parents prepare for their in-home social study or custody evaluation. Furthermore, now that I am doing custody coaching with clients from other states, I am amazed at how different divorce and custody proceedings are from state to state.
While I have really tried to focus all the custody tips to be generic and gender neutral, there are some unique characteristics in some states that probably should be discussed.
Texas Custody Battles Usually Start with a Mandatory Parenting Class
I am pleased to say that most Texas courts require divorcing parents with children to take a mandatory parenting class. Having sat through several of these classes, I think this requirement is a good one as issues about co-parenting and working with your Ex need to be addressed.
18 years ago when I started taking classes, they were done with both parents in a literal classroom. Today there are an array of online solutions to further ease the process and the classes address more and more post-divorce issues.
Texas Custody Battles Can Be Determined by a Jury
This week I was talking with an advocate in California who was researching why Texas is one of the only states that allows a custody hearing to be decided by a jury. This element, although rarely used, is fairly unique to Texas. A filing petitioner can actually have the final hearing decided by a 12 member jury as opposed to their sitting judge.
While these hearings tend to be extremely expensive, parents who feel that perhaps judges could be gender biased can have a small community of local citizen actually decide the outcome of their custody battles. I know this first hand, it’s how I gained full custody of my then 4-year-old daughter.
Texas Custody Battles Usually Have Social Study Evaluation Home Visits
For contested custody hearings in Texas, most judges will order a home visit social study report conducted by a social worker. This social study report or custody evaluation is an in-depth background and reference check, personal history questionnaire, and in-home kid visits to both Mom and Dad. This extensively written report ends with a single primary custody recommendation given to the judge before the final hearing.
In my observations, judges routinely recommend final primary custody based heavily on this report. This “social study” has become so important in determining custody in Texas, that my next course is dedicated exclusively to the entire process.
There are many other unique factors with divorce and custody in Texas but these are the main three. Child custody law changes frequently, therefore, I always recommend parents find a good local attorney to aid in their custody battles.
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