Thank you for your question.
In Texas, there is a rebutable presumption that parents should serve as the Joint Managing Conservators of their children. In Texas, "Conservatorship" is "Custody" of the children, and the entire regime about the child(ren) is now called a "Parenting Plan."
Joint Managing Conservatorship does not mean that each party will have the children one-half of the time. It also does not mean that child support will not be awarded to one parent. Joint Managing Conservatorship does mean that the parents will either share, allocate, or apportion parental rights and duties. These are the same parental rights and duties that the parents have prior to a divorce being filed; they just may be allocated differently in the divorce -instead of parenting together, each parent will eventually have their own residence.
A social study will involve the completion of informational data, gathering of references, and an interview in their offices and/or home. A recommendation on conservatorship will be made to the Court at the conclusion of their investigation. The Court may also order psychological evaluations of one or both parties and/or the children. Additionally, a party may wish to retain psychiatrists, psychologists, or private custody evaluators.
If 12 years of age or older, a child can sign an affidavit stating whom the child would prefer to live with. If requested by a party, the Court will interview a child 10 years of age or older. Neither the affidavit nor the information from the interview is binding on the court, and the court will always use tlook to do what is in the "best interest" of the children in making any decisions.
Obviously, I do not know your situation, however, it is highly unlikely that you would lose custody of your children, at least entirely. The court does not want to cut a child off from either parent, and does so only in the most extreme cases. Now, a study can say that the children would be better off with the father being the primary custodial parent, and the children can even say they want to live with him, but none of this is binding; all of it is evidence that the court will consider, ultimately doing what it feels is best for the children.
It also sounds like you have a lot of positive factors going for you -you have been the primary caregiver for more than a decade, and a court will be reluctant to change that. You have returned to college and are looking to better yourself and to get a career that will support you and your children. And of course, your husband had an affair, and what impact did that have on the marriage and the children?
Ideally, since custody battles can be long and drawn out, it is best if the parties can reach an agreement on custody and visitation, but if they can't, rest assured that you need not panic at the thought of a social study.
Hope that helps.
Good luck to you. If you have any additional questions, please press the reply button, and I will be happy to assist you further.
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