Written by attorney Angelina Maria Monte Zinn

Texas Custody: When Can My Child Decide Which Parent to Live With?


In Texas, a child at the age of 13 is considered an age when the child has the mental capacity to "tell" the court, if you will, where they would like to live and with whom. While many parents believe that this only decides legally where the child will reside, they are unfortunately mistaken.

How to Texas Courts Decide My Child's Primary Residence?

While Texas Courts consider the desires of the child, the underlying deciding factor for determining a child's primary custodial parent is, "what is in the best interest of the child."

What is the "Best Interest of a Child"

When determining the best interest of the child, the Texas Courts look at many factors, including the desires of the child, the emotional and physical needs of the child now and in the future, the emotional and physical danger to the child now and in the future; the parental abilities of the individuals seeking custody, the programs available to assist these individuals to promote the best interest of the child, the plans for the child by these individuals or by the agency seeking custody; the stability of the home or proposed placement, the acts or omissions of the parent which may indicate that the existing parent-child relationship is not a proper one, and any excuse for the acts or omissions of the parent.

That said, if the child says they want to live with one parent and the court determines that is not in the best interest of the child when determining any/all issues relative to the child, the court will not likely place the child where they've experessed they want to be.


As a parent with a child that desires to live with them, the parent must never assume that its a simple conclusion to what a Texas Court will do. A parent must always consider the many factors that Texas Courts consider in deciding the primary custodial or "residence" of their child.

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