The Texas Supreme Court is currently considering a case that will likely have an impact on child custody disputes in Texas. Specifically, the Texas high court will determine if two lower court judges made a mistake when they rejected an agreed-upon child-custody agreement because of concerns that the agreement put the child in contact with a sex offender.
Child Custody Agreements in Texas
Generally, once the separated parents of a child agree to, and sign, a custody agreement, it is binding on the parents – with the court approving the agreement during a hearing.
In the particular case at issue, the father of the child admitted the he had signed a custody agreement – the result of a day-long mediation session – but argued during the hearing that he had a change of heart and did not approve of the agreement any longer. The father claimed that his ex-wife’s new husband – who was a registered sex offender – slept “naked in bed” with his 7-year-old daughter between them.
Following this claim, the judge rejected the agreed-upon child-custody agreement and the mother appealed. She argued that since both parents already had a signed child-custody agreement in place that it was an error for the judge to reject it.
Best Interests of the Child
Texas statutory law states that the goals of child custody determinations are to provide a safe environment for the child and to make the best interests of the child the main consideration of the court.
Depending on how the Texas Supreme Court decides, it will hopefully answer the question of how much discretion a court has to reject a child-custody agreement agreed upon by both parents if the court determines the agreement is not in the best interests of the child.
Source: The Statesman, “Child safety case could affect disputed Texas divorces,” Chuck Lindell, May 28, 2012