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Helping -- and not hurting -- your child custody case (part 1)

As we noted in our last blog post, certain words or certain actions can end up having a significant impact when viewed through the lens of a family court proceeding. Child custody hearings in particular can be sensitive and potentially difficult for Dallas residents to go through. In order to build a better understanding of what factors can help or hurt a child custody case, we'll devote a short series to the subject -- intended, of course, as general information only and not specific legal advice.

The main thing the court will try to determine during a child custody hearing is what is in the best interests of the child. To that end, the court will consider, among other things, each parent's income and ability to support the child financially; mental and physical health; the health of the child; and the wishes of both the child and the parents. A court may also scrutinize habits like smoking cigarettes or heavy drinking by the parents.

One action that can have potentially negative consequences is moving out of the family home and leaving the children behind. Even if there was legitimate reason to do so, a judge may see the children living in the home with the other parent and be reluctant to disrupt that stability. On the other hand, taking the children along when one moves out could demonstrate a desire to protect them, but one should approach the court as soon as possible in this situation to avoid potential legal repercussions.

We'll take a look at a number of other factors in our follow-up post later this week. These include including gender, sexual orientation and race.

Source: Findlaw.com, "Getting Custody FAQ," accessed on Jan. 24, 2015

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