As we began discussing in our previous post, courts consider many factors in a child custody hearing, above and beyond the arguments made by the parents. It’s important that our Dallas readers understand what a court may — and may not — use in formulating a judgment as to what’s in the child’s best interests.

There was a time when perhaps the most common judgment was simply and unquestioningly: grant full custody to the mother. This was especially true with younger children. Today, however, Dallas residents should understand that a Texas court will make a decision based on what is feels is in the child’s best interests. A joint custody ruling is common, and fathers can be awarded up to full custody just as mothers can.

One factor that a court cannot consider is the race of the parents. The basis for this is a U.S. Supreme Court case in which a divorced father sought a custody modification after his wife remarried a man of a different racial background and moved into his community. The Supreme Court eventually struck down his claim. Race, today, cannot be used as a factor in a custody ruling or modification.

Sexual orientation, however, is currently a shifting legal landscape as it relates to child custody and visitation. Same-sex parents may find it preferable to try to resolve a child custody dispute out of court, through mediation. Family law professionals can provide specific legal advice (as opposed to the general information in this post) regarding this unique option.

Source:, “Getting Custody FAQ,” accessed on Jan. 25, 2015