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Child custody can be one of the most serious issues divorcing couples must work out. As a result, it is helpful for divorcing couples who have children to be familiar with how child custody is determined. Parents are encouraged to work together to resolve child custody but the family law court also provides resources to help them if they are unable to decide on a child custody arrangement.

Child custody is determined based on what is in the best interests of the child. Parents facing concerns about child custody may wonder how what is in the best interests of the child is determined. The best interests of the child standard seeks to reach a child custody arrangement that is best for the child and serves their overall well-being and provides for their safety.

Several factors are used to determine what is in the best interests of the child. Those factors can include the child’s emotional and physical needs; the child’s relationship with each of their parents; the health and finances of each of the parents; the child’s age and preference; and any history of abuse or neglect or domestic violence or sexual abuse in the family.

Both physical and legal custody of the child must be decided upon. Physical custody refers to where the child lives and legal custody refers to making decisions for the child related to their education, healthcare and religious upbringing. In Texas, the term conservatorship is used to refer to child custody. Child custody can be emotional and challenging so it is helpful for everyone involved to remain focused on what is in the best interests of the child.