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How can your child’s age influence your custody proceedings?

Every child changes significantly as they grow, and those changes often mean that a young child has very different needs from a teenager. As a result, the age of your child and their stage of development could change the way that the court approaches your custody arrangement. How might your child’s age change what is in their best interest?

If your child is very young, parents’ responsibilities may have greater weight.

For very young children, one parent may have been more active in their care. Especially if that child is still breastfeeding and will rely directly on their parent for their nutritional needs, the court may view that parent as better able to meet the child’s current needs.

If your child is approaching school age, their educational needs will be a factor.

Couples that have children who are in school or will soon enter kindergarten will need to address their education alongside other needs when determining the child’s best interests. If one parent is better able to support their education, the courts may put a greater focus on that ability when outlining parenting time.

If your child is 12 or older, their preference may be a factor.

Every child has a unique relationship with each of their parents, and Texas law allows children at least 12 years old to voice that preference as part of the custody proceedings. However, it is important to remember that the child’s preference is only one factor among many, including their education, medical needs, each parent’s income and many others.

Custody arrangements can change as children grow.

Your child’s circumstances and needs can change significantly as they grow, and you can reflect their changing needs with modifications to your custody agreement. For example, if your custody arrangement was established when your child was a baby and one parent acted as their primary caretaker, you may be able to divide parenting time more equally as they grow older and more independent. This allows you to ensure that your custody arrangement supports your child at any age.

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