Politics
9:33 pm
Sat February 1, 2014

Wendy Davis' Child Custody Claim 'Mostly True,' PolitiFact Texas Declares

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis has been in the spotlight recently regarding her life story. News reports have suggested that Davis embellished her personal story of being a single, teen mother who escaped poverty by working hard and eventually getting a law degree. 

In addition, while she earned a degree from Harvard Law School, her two daughters mostly lived in Texas with her husband. The Dallas Morning News reported: "When Davis and her husband divorced in 2005, he was granted parental custody, and the girls stayed with him. Wendy Davis was directed to pay child support."

In a Tuesday speech, Davis said she never gave up custody of her children.

Is Davis telling the truth? PolitiFact Texas says it's "mostly true."

PolitiFact Texas, a fact-checking service of the Austin American-Statesman and PolitiFact.com, looked into the claim:

Davis said she "never gave up custody of my children. I never lost custody of my children."

Custody, it turns out, is an outdated term for what has evolved into "managing conservatorship." And in the senator’s divorce, she and her ex-husband agreed to joint managing conservatorship, which means that neither parent sacrificed custody. That said, her ex-husband’s home was designated as their daughter Dru’s primary residence in the divorce decree and Davis agreed to make child-support payments.

Outside of the legal process, it’s not uncommon for the parent who’s not the primary caregiver to be considered noncustodial, which may explain why the candidate described herself this way less than five months ago. Still, it would be incorrect to say she legally relinquished her parental role.

We rate this statement, which was missing this clarification, as Mostly True.

Read more about how PolitiFact Texas came to its rating.

Earlier this week, Davis's campaign released letters from her two adult daughters who say they want to correct “untrue things” and “ludicrous comments” about their mother. Here's what KERA reported earlier this week:

In her open letter to the media, the candidate's younger daughter Dru Davis, 25, said she wants to “set the record straight.” She said her mother didn’t abandon her and her sister while enrolled at Harvard. She said her parents shared equally in the daughters’ care. She said her mother traveled back and forth between the family home in Texas and Boston.

Amber Davis, 31, says her parents jointly made the decision for the daughters to remain in Texas and no one -- meaning Wendy Davis -- “lost or gave up custody” of the girls as some have assumed.

Read the letters here.