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Legal Term of the Month: Custody

by Houston Divorce Attorney Sam M. “Trey” Yates, III

Custody refers to the legal arrangements that dictate whom a child will live with and who will make major life decisions on behalf of the child.

Custody has two parts: legal and physical. Legal custody refers to the ability to make decisions on how to care for and raise the child. If the parents have joint custody, both parents will be involved in making these decisions. If one parent has sole custody, they will make the decisions on their own and inform the other parent afterwards. In Texas, legal custody is also referred to as conservatorship.

Physical custody refers to where the child lives on a regular basis. Generally, the parent the child does not live with will be allowed to have regular visits with the child. Parents can make any custodial arrangement that is in the best interest of their children, including having the child spend a relatively equal time living with each parent. It is the policy of the State of Texas to assure children will have frequent and continuing contact with both parents who have shown the ability to act in the best interest of the child. Factors taken into consideration may include:

  • The age and health of each parent.
  • The age and health of the child.
  • The child’s educational needs through high school.
  • The desire on the part of each parent to have sole or joint custody.
  • The employment stability and potential of each parent.
  • The financial resources of each parent and of the child.
  • The impact on each parent maintaining two households.
  • The income and earning capabilities of each parent.
  • The possibility of the child obtaining employment.
  • The tax liabilities of each parent.
  • The willingness both parents demonstrate to allow visitation.

Sam M. “Trey” Yates, III is a Houston-based Board Certified Family Law Attorney and creator of The Guide to Good Divorce seminars for women. If you have questions about your Texas divorce, please contact The Law Office of Sam M. “Trey” Yates, III, P.C. for a consultation. If you would like more information about Trey Yates’ 2021 The Guide to Good Divorce seminars, please visit or call 713.393.7177.

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