If you are a parent going through a divorce in Texas, there is probably a lot on your mind. One of your biggest concerns may be who will gain custody of the children. There are a number of factors that go into how custody is determined, and a deciding one may relate to the age of the child and who can best meet the developmental needs.

According to FindLaw, Texas refers to child custody in conservatorship terms. If only one parent is allowed to make legal decisions, it is referred to as sole conservatorship, while when both parents can it is joint conservatorship. Correct terms aside, the bigger question is how does a court decide? In Texas, as in many states, the best interests of the children are what guide the decision-making process. However, other factors include the financial and physical health of each party and if there is a history of neglect or abuse.

To help determine who may be the best conservator for the child, the State Bar of Texas discusses that each parent’s ability to support the developmental needs of each child should be considered. For younger children questions to consider may include who is best at providing basic needs, how each one helps the child develop language skills or the ability to promote a safe environment. For older children, factors may include how one supports academic success, guides the child through difficult social situations or the amount of participation in school/extracurricular activities. Older children also have more of a say as far as who they prefer to live with.