Child custody can be a difficult, emotionally draining process. You might be a divorcing parent or single parent struggling to get custody of your child. Maybe you are a grandparent or family member stepping in for parents who are absent or facing personal challenges.
Understandably, many find the process of obtaining child custody and child support daunting. You might wonder what factors will affect your custody rights and how the legal system will decide your case. A well-versed child custody lawyer can walk you through the process step-by-step. The legal team at Whitney Thompson Law would love to help you face the all-too-common uncertainty of parental arrangements.
In Texas, the term child custody is legally called a “conservatorship.” Child custody and support are decided for the primary benefit of the child. Not all child custody cases look the same. Depending on the parties involved, you may come to a solution outside of court with a mediator present. If custody arrangements cannot be solved amicably outside of court, then they will have to be decided within a courtroom.
Regardless of what your case entails — no matter how small or how complicated — our legal team will help you come to an arrangement. There are generally two different options:
A joint managing conservatorship occurs when two parties are allowed to participate in parental rights and duties. One party may, however, receive a greater share of responsibilities. This greater responsibility can include being the primary caretaker of a child.
Keep in mind that Texas law presumes that both parents should be joint managing conservators. This is believed to be in the best interests of children. In these arrangements, we can help you decide on visitation rights and schedules.
On the other hand, a sole managing conservatorship occurs when only one party is allowed to participate in parental rights and duties. Typically, the other parent is designated as a possessory conservator. This can be due to issues such as parental abandonment, abuse, or neglect.
Child custody lawyer Whitney L. Thompson and her legal team understand the challenges parents face when facing a child custody battle. It is important that you know the full extent of your rights when dealing with divorce matters especially when your children are involved.
Reach out to us today at (281) 214-0173 for a consultation on your child custody case.
Texas Custody Lawyers refer to visitation and custody in different ways. The term “managing conservatorship” is used to describe custody. One parent can act as sole managing conservator, or have sole custody. Or both parents can form a joint managing conservatorship. The other parent can be a sole or joint managing conservator. If one parent is the sole conservator, then they are called “possessory conservators.” This is the parent with visitation rights only. We simply refer to conservatorship as “custody”, and we use visitation instead of the confusing, official language Possession and Access.
Texas law allows for a preference to have joint custody. If it is in the best interests of the child, the court will appoint both parents to be joint managing conservators. The court may not appoint both parents as joint managing conservators if it is in the child’s best interests. In that case, the court will choose one parent to become the sole managing conservator.
The rights and obligations of parents who share joint custody of their child include the following: The most important rights include the right to control the child’s religion, consent to medical treatment, and make educated decisions. The court may grant power to one parent to decide if they disagree, even if it appoints both parents to be joint custodians.
Sometimes custody awards made by the court do not come out as expected. The court can modify the custody order in these cases. Three things are required to show that custody can be modified. The first is that there has to be a substantial and material change in the circumstances of either the parent or the child. Alternately, children under 12 years of age can request a change in custody. They may do this by telling the judge privately where they would prefer to live. The parent who wants to modify custody must show the court that it is in the best interests of the child.
Courts almost always gave custody to mothers with younger children under the “tender year doctrine.” Texas’s legislature required that custody be determined based on the best interests of the child. This made it more common for fathers to receive custody. The Texas Legislature later made clearer that custody should not be determined based on gender preference. It passed a law that required that custody decisions must be made “without regard to gender”.
Although child support may not appear to be related to child custody, the fact that one parent does not reside with the child means that the other pays child support. Texas’ legislature made a law that states visitation rights can not be terminated if the parent who isn’t custodial fails to make child support payments. It was decided that maintaining a relationship between the child’s parent and the noncustodial parent is more important than timely payment of child support. The noncustodial parent cannot be denied visitation rights to a child because they have not paid child support.
Texas judges determine custody of a child based upon the best interest of the child. The following factors may be considered by the court in making this determination:
Texas court judges do not favor either mother or father in custody cases. It is illegal to consider gender. They instead consider what is in the best interest of the child, based on several factors such as the relationship between the parents and the child.
At the Law Office of Whitney L. Thompson, our team of legal professionals is experienced in helping families navigate the tough terrains surrounding child custody laws and estate planning in Houston, Texas.
It is rare that one parent can be given sole custody (custody), by the Texas court following a divorce. In most cases, both parents can have access or some form of custody of their child.
Texas uses the term “parenting time” to describe an agreement or court order that specifies how each parent will spend time with the child, and what role each parent plays in the decision-making process. Parents can create many parenting agreements between themselves without having the court intervene. However, if the issue is not clear, you will need to take it to court.
Both sides have to present their case in court in order for a parenting arrangement to be decided. In the end, the judge will decide the parent’s parenting plan and the decision-making rights.
Texas presumes that parents will be named “joint-managing conservators”. The court may change their minds about this presumption based on the evidence. This means that Texas courts consider each parent to have an important role in making decisions about the child’s welfare.
The court can limit the rights to a joint managing conservator in order that one conservator is more important than the other when it comes to “the best interest of the child.” The court might decide that one parent is more attentive to the education needs of the child and grant that parent exclusive educational decision-making rights. One parent might be a doctor. This parent might based on their experience and professional training, show that it is in the child’s best interest if they have the authority to decide about the child’s medical treatment.
When a court determines that a conservator has the sole right to name the primary residence for the child (i.e. which parent is the child’s base), this is the most important aspect of conservatorship. While this may be a significant factor in the custody (or visitation of) the child it will not necessarily dictate what possession that child will have.
The testimony and evidence of the parents are very important in framing the court’s view on what “best interests” are for the child. The parents are often the most significant component of the court’s consideration with respect to the child and how the court would seek to allocate important rights and duties to each parent, such as who gets the right to make educational decisions, who gets the right to make important health care and psychological/psychiatric decisions, and who gets to designate the primary residence of the child.
Fighting for your rights as a parent in Houston, Texas can be a difficult terrain to navigate. Seeking the legal advice of an experienced child custody attorney may be able to help you understand the full extent of your rights as a parent.
Call the Law Office of Whitney L. Houston today at (281) 214-0173 to speak with a skilled child custody lawyer.