The end of a marriage or a long-term relationship can be devastating. Whether amicable or highly-contested, divorce and custody lawsuits are some of the most stressful processes a family can experience. When children are involved, it is even more critical to have a knowledgeable and experienced representative guide you through the family legal system and look out for your rights.
When parents separate or divorce in Texas, they need a legal agreement to allocate responsibilities for raising the child. The plan outlines how the child will be raised and cared for and how the parents will share custody. If the parties agree to the plan, the court will review the plan and approve it or send the plan back to the parents if the court believes it is not in the child’s best interest.
Texas Family Law states that “the best interest of the child shall always be the primary consideration of the court.” The court prefers that parents share responsibility and act fairly in raising their child above all else. However, if the parents cannot agree, either parent or the court itself can step in and obtain orders to protect the child’s best interests.
This potential result highlights the need to understand child custody laws in Texas. Otherwise, you could risk losing parental rights you may otherwise be entitled to.
Texas Courts Prefer Joint Custody Between Parents
Legal custody in Texas can only be created by a court order. In Texas, the legal word for custody is “conservatorship.” The court’s goal is for both parents to share custody or “joint conservatorship,” where both parents are named “Joint Managing Conservators.”
Although the court prefers joint custody, it is possible that the court will name a sole managing conservator if one parent is found to be unfit.
Overall, the court has options when ruling on the issue of child custody. And, the court will also seek to determine what kind of conservatorship is awarded based on the best interests of the child.
– Sole Managing Conservatorship means that one parent exclusively holds all of the rights and duties allotted to parents in the Texas Family Code. This designation is generally used in extreme situations where the child may be neglected or put in danger, but it can be ordered if the Court feels it is in the child’s best interests.
– Joint Managing Conservatorship means that, while there will still be a “primary” parent with the exclusive right to designate the primary residence of the child(ren) and the exclusive right to receive child support, the “non-primary” parent will more than likely share several of the other decision-making rights and duties.
Texas courts prefer joint custody arrangements so that a child can have a meaningful relationship with both parents. However, if a parent is deemed unfit, then sole custody or sole conservatorship will be granted to the other parent, who will then have exclusive managing and possessory conservatorship over the child.
How Are Visitation Rights Determined?
Texas law uses different legal terms for what most people call “custody” and “visitation.” These legal terms are “conservatorship,” “possession,” and “access.” There are two different forms of conservatorship rights given to parents in Texas:
– Managing conservatorship allows a parent to make legal decisions regarding the child, as well as the power to make financial and medical decisions for the child.
– Possessory conservatorship gives a parent the right to access and visit the child, but not necessarily the authority to make legal decisions for the child.
A Standard Possession Order will detail visitation rights. Although the Texas Family Code sets forth a standard possession order to give each parent as much time as possible with their child, the order may not work for everyone. As a family law expert, I can help you craft and advocate for a possession schedule that works for you and your family to maximize the time you are able to spend with your children.
How Child Support Is Determined in Texas
In general, child support is based on state guidelines that factor in the paying parent’s net income and other resources. Child support orders are designed to protect both the person who receives child support and the person ordered to pay child support.
The amount of child support will vary from case to case, and there are several factors that the court can consider when calculating child support. Judges will often adhere to the guidelines of the Texas Family Code, but there are situations where it is appropriate to deviate from those guidelines.
If you are concerned about the child support aspect of child custody, I can help you explore what factors would be most applicable to your family’s situation to achieve the most accurate child support calculation.
How to Protect Your Rights for Child Custody
Trying to navigate the Texas Family Court System on your own can be a devastating experience. You want an experienced attorney on your side to ensure that you take the right actions quickly and correctly. You want to work with someone who will fight for you while protecting your rights and the rights of your family.
My practice is focused solely on family law. I know how complex and overwhelming the legal process can be, especially when your assets, livelihood, and children are at stake. My goal is to help you understand your rights and the issues affecting your case, then zealously advocate on your behalf.
Family law litigation is never easy. It takes a toll on all involved, both physically and mentally. I pride myself on providing parents with the tools they need to be successful working through child custody laws in Texas. I have proudly helped numerous parents in Fort Bend County, Brazoria County, and Harris County take a positive step forward in your situation.
Call my offices at 281-944-5485 or 979-267-7660 to see how I can help provide you with security and peace of mind for your child custody matter. Let’s work together to find the best possible outcome for you and your family.