In Texas, custody might be handled differently for children under 3 than for older children, given younger children’s emotional and physical needs. Provisions might be made for necessary care and support and to work towards the more permanent custody order.
Younger children have specific needs
While in many cases courts look towards shared child custody as being in the best interest of the child, infants and children under 3 will still need the consistency provided by the main caretaker as they often bond primarily with one parent during these years. Younger children might not adapt as well to changing homes frequently or to disruptions in their routines so it is often in the best interest of the child to have one parent have primary physical custody through these years.
Court considerations for younger children
When the court is deciding on custody for children under 3, the court will look at the evidence to support a variety of factors. These include:
• The child’s age
• The child’s needs, including physical, emotional, medical, and educational
• The child’s primary caretaker before the custody dispute
• The possibility for personal caretaking by the parent
• The location of each parent’s home
• The child’s routines with a focus to avoid disruption
When a child custody order is temporarily made for children under 3, the court’s goal is to eventually help the family transition towards the permanent custody order. As part of this, the court will also look at the necessity for the child to build a strong relationship with both parents, even if the order at first establishes a primary caretaker. During this process, the court will also look at each parent’s ability to share duties in raising the child and the relationship both parents have had with the child in the past.