How to file & win sole custody in Texas

When you are going through a difficult divorce, it is natural for emotions to run high and an adversarial relationship to form between parents. In the midst of a contentious divorce, some parents have a hard time understanding that the other parent is a good parent simply because the parental relationship didn’t work out.

In such cases, prospective clients often come to our family law firm and ask our divorce lawyers, Fort Worth, TX how to get full custody of a child in Texas. They can’t stand their ex and will do anything it takes to secure full custody in Texas.

Other parents come to us who legitimately believe the other parent poses a physical or emotional danger to their child, or they believe the child’s best interests will be best served if the other parent only has limited access to and visitation with the child. They too ask for help fighting for custody in Texas. 

If you’re wondering how to win child custody in Texas, the most important thing to keep in mind is that the best interest of the child is paramount in Texas family courts. Parents seeking sole custody for selfish reasons (say they want to make their ex’s life miserable) won’t have a leg to stand on.

What is sole custody?

In Texas, legal custody is granted to individuals with sole custody, allowing them to make pivotal decisions regarding a child’s life. In essence, this translates to possessing nearly all parental rights and the capacity to make most decisions concerning your child’s life.

Can we help every parent get sole custody in Texas?

No. The truth is getting sole custody in Texas is very difficult to achieve in almost all circumstances. Every child custody issue in Texas comes down to determining what is in the best interest of the child. Very few circumstances exist where the family courts will decide that it is not in the best interest of a child to have both parents play some role in his or her life. When possible, the state of Texas and family courts believe the more time a child spends with both parents the better.

At our Fort Worth law firm, we also don’t think that every parent who walks through our door and wants sole custody should necessarily receive it. If we believe that to be the case in your situation, we will tell you so. 

In other words, the Sisemore Law Firm agrees 100 percent with the state of Texas and the family courts that the best interest of the child should be served. Now, that doesn’t mean we won’t fight hard to achieve the best child custody and visitation outcome available to you and your child. We will. You’ll find some of the best family lawyers in Fort Worth here ready to fight for your rights.


How to get full custody in Texas (if it’s in the best interest of your child)

The state of Texas refers to full custody—or sole custody—as sole managing conservatorship. Again, there are very limited circumstances where a judge will agree to grant one parent sole custody in Texas but it is possible. In addition, sole managing conservatorship may not be necessary depending on your goals. 

Are you looking to completely terminate the other parent’s parental rights? This step is typically required if you want to sever all ties between the other parent and your child. This also means giving up child support unless the other parent agrees to pay some form of a financial settlement, which is highly unlikely.

Do you want to allow the other parent to spend some time with your child but ensure you are the parent who makes all of the decisions for them? You may still be able to ask to be named sole managing conservator and allow the other parent the right to perform some parental duties as a possessory conservator. 


Terminating parental rights in order to get full custody in Texas is NOT easy 

Unless the other parent voluntarily relinquishes parental rights, the burden is on the other parent (or interested party, such as a grandparent) to provide clear and convincing evidence that termination of parental rights is in the best interest of the child.

The grounds for terminating parental rights in Texas are spelled out in Chapter 161, Subchapter A of the Texas Family Code



Abandonment is one potential ground for involuntary termination of parental rights. You may be able to request and win sole custody in Texas if the other parent:

  • Voluntarily left a child in possession of an individual (not the other parent) with an expressed intent not to return.
  • Voluntarily left a child in possession of an individual (not the other parent) without expressing intent to return, not providing support for the child and remaining away for at least 3 months.
  • Voluntarily left the child alone or in the possession of another without providing adequate support for the child and remained away for a period of at least six months.
  • Voluntarily and with knowledge of the pregnancy abandoned the mother of the child during pregnancy and for a period after birth.



You may also be successful in terminating the other parent’s parental rights if you can prove that he or she:

  • Knowingly placed or allowed the child to be in surroundings or engaged in conduct that endangered the child’s physical or emotional wellbeing.
  • Failed to support the child according to the parent’s ability within a set period of time.
  • Has been convicted of or under community supervision for being criminally responsible for the death or serious injury of a child under certain sections of the penal code.
  • Has been convicted of murder or sexual assault of the other parent.
  • Used a controlled substance in a manner that endangered the health or safety of a child and failed to complete or abide by a court-ordered treatment program and other steps toward sobriety the court requires.
  • Gave birth to a child addicted to alcohol or a controlled substance other than one legally obtained by prescription.

The above list is not complete and the offenses must be proven and meet certain circumstances in order for a judge to terminate parental rights. If you believe your child’s physical or emotional wellbeing is at risk, contact a divorce attorney in Fort Worth or the city or county where you reside to review your options.


Do you want to know how to get full custody in Texas OR primarily want to make decisions for your child?

If you can’t convince the court to terminate the other parent’s parental rights or grant you sole managing conservatorship—you and the other parent will likely end up sharing custody. In Texas, you would be named joint managing conservators (commonly referred to as joint custody), which also means the other parent will probably be allowed to make some decisions for the child.

Under a joint managing conservatorship, both parents agree—or a judge decides—which rights and duties each parent will be assigned and responsible to fulfill. When it’s left to the judge to decide, who primarily handled what duties and decisions in the past will likely be assigned to handle those responsibilities moving forward. 

That means if you have been the go-to for medical decisions and the other parent has been taking the child to church every Sunday, those circumstances would probably continue.

These specific parental rights and duties have been set forth in the Texas Family Code and include the right to make decisions about where the child lives, education, medical care and religious affiliation among others. 

What most people don’t realize is that these enumerated rights and duties may be subject to negotiation during child custody disputes and that they can be exclusive or shared. That’s why it’s important to hire a reputable divorce lawyer with experience handling child custody negotiations to help you fight for the rights you want.

Even if you don’t get sole custody in Texas, a skilled attorney can help you secure the parental rights that are most important to you—preferably with the exclusive right to make those decisions.


On the “other” side? Be careful not to jeopardize your parental rights

Some parents, usually fathers, will agree to let the other parent have full or sole custody (sole managing conservatorship) because they want to resolve things quickly for their children. They may even feel compassion for the other parent or be holding out hope for reconciliation and step back because they want to make things go as smoothly as possible for the other party.

While being compassionate and easy-going is nice, agreeing to relinquish your rights to make decisions for your child can have lasting effects. We have even seen situations where a father handles his own child custody case and agrees to the mother being sole conservator. 

Without proper legal advice from a child custody lawyer, you could end up with much less access to your child than you desire, and the other parent could make decisions that you believe are not in the best interest of your child. In addition to the other parent having primary physical custody, he or she—as sole managing conservator—may also have the right to make all decisions regarding medical care, education and more.

In addition, should you decide to go back and seek a modification to your child custody orders later, the fact that the other parent was initially granted sole custody could raise red flags with the judge. He or she may question your ability to make decisions or be responsible for the child due to this fact. 

We can’t stress strongly enough how important it is to seek legal guidance when custody and visitation of a child is in question. A family law attorney can answer questions ranging from how to file for custody in Texas to how to terminate parental rights to how much child support can I expect.


Our Fort Worth, Texas attorneys can answer your questions about sole custody

Some of the most common questions our Fort Worth family lawyers hear pertain to how to get custody of a child in Texas. When the parent is seeking sole custody, the general answer is, “You will need to prove the child is in physical or emotional danger due to abuse, neglect or some other reason.”

At Sisemore Law Firm, P.C., we provide representation in child custody matters that are tailored to the unique circumstances of each client. We have handled everything from uncontested divorces to complex custody litigation and can be relied upon to handle your case with dignity while ensuring you understand your rights as a parent.

Our child custody lawyers bring immense value to child custody cases in Texas due to decades of experience in the Tarrant County family courts. Our Fort Worth family law firm knows “the devil is in the details” when it comes to negotiating child custody and visitation agreements. We make sure that seemingly small issues are not overlooked and handled properly to avoid future complications.


What can I expect during a child custody consultation with the Sisemore Law Firm?

If you’re considering filing for custody in Texas and live in Tarrant County—whether you’re seeking sole custody or a shared custody agreement—our experienced family lawyers are here to help. The first step for any new prospective client at our firm is to schedule a confidential case review with our founder attorney Justin Sisemore

Prior to the consultation, our team will ask for some preliminary information from you regarding your goals, family history and dynamics, as well as what brought you to this point. The more details you can provide prior to the consultation the better, as Justin will review your case thoroughly prior to meeting with you.

During your child custody consultation, Justin will review your case and potential options. He will also explain what he believes is the best direction or strategy for your specific case. If your goal is to find out how to get full custody in Texas and Justin doesn’t believe the court will agree to that, he will explain why. 

IMPORTANT: It’s essential to be on the same page as your attorney. If you don’t agree with the strategy Justin recommends, he won’t take your case and will encourage you to seek advice from another family law attorney. (Our firm is happy to provide recommendations if you need them.)

You will also have the opportunity to ask questions during the consultation. In fact, questions are welcome! Educating clients about their options for child custody and visitation, as well as child support is a top priority for our firm. We want to make sure you have the information you need to take the next step when you walk out the door. 


Contact our Fort Worth family law firm to review your child custody concerns

Divorce can be challenging even when the two parties get along. Add animosity and anger to the mix, and children often pay the price. At the Sisemore Law Firm, our divorce lawyers, Fort Worth, TX believe children should come first. 

To learn more about sole custody, shared custody or terminating parental rights in Texas, contact us today to schedule a confidential case review. For your convenience, we offer consultations in-person, by phone or via videoconference.