Child Custody When One Parent is a Non-US Citizen

A divorce or separation can be challenging—particularly so for parents who share young children. It is never easy to go through child custody or child visitation. You may feel that your case is even more complicated if you or your co-parent is not a U.S. citizen. However, the Supreme Court of the United States has ruled that neither citizenship status nor immigration status can be used as a factor by family law courts. In this article, our Fort Worth child custody lawyerexplains the key things to understand about custody disputes when one of the parents is not an American citizen.

Citizenship (Immigration Statutes) Not a Factor in a Custody Cases in Texas

In the United States, immigration status—including whether a person is or is not a U.S. citizen—is generally not a direct factor in civil cases. Texas courts have consistently held that a person’s citizenship status or immigration status is not a relevant factor when it comes to determining their parental fitness.

An instructive example comes from the 2017 case of Turrubiartes v. Olvera. In the child custody dispute, the Court of Appeals of Texas, Houston heard testimony that one parent was a U.S. citizen whereas the other parent was an undocumented immigrant. The court rules that “immigration status, standing alone, is not probative of parental fitness.

The Bottom Line: Neither citizenship status nor immigration status is a direct factor in custody cases in Texas. However, issues related to immigration such—such as an undocumented immigrant’s inability to obtain a driver’s license—could potentially have an effect on the case. Still, citizenship &immigration status are not factors on their own in custody cases in Texas.

The Best Interests of the Child Always Take Precedence

Under Texas law (Tex. Fam. Code § 153.002), the best interests of the child always take precedence. In a custody dispute, a Texas court is tasked with coming to a solution that is best for the child’s physical safety, health, emotional well-being, and social stability. Courts can review a wide range of different factors to determine a child’s best interests—from each parent’s current relationship with the child to any history of abuse, neglect, or parental misconduct. Parents involved in a custody case should always be prepared to provide evidence that demonstrates that they are able to provide a safe, secure home environment for their child that would be in their best interests.

Schedule a Confidential Consultation With a Child Custody Attorney in Fort Worth, TX

At The Law Office of Kyle Whitaker, our Fort Worth child custody lawyer has the skills and family law experience that parents can rely on. If you have any specific questions about custody when one parent is not a United States citizen, we are here to help. Contact us today to arrange your strictly private case review. From our Fort Worth law office, we handle family law cases throughout the region, including in Dallas, Arlington, Irvine, Flower Mound, Mansfield, and Grapevine.