Kid-Focused Help For Good Dads
Do you ever feel like you have to ask permission to be part of your kids’ lives?
As if you’re some kind of outsider, or an inconvenience?
Have you been pushed around and pushed out, but desperate to be the father that your child needs?
If you’ve run into a wall as a dad, you know the frustration of too many fathers. Our firm helps dads in the Austin and Houston areas to secure their rights.
So, let’s tackle the obvious question…
Do dads have the same rights as mothers?
Yes. Sort of.
When parents divorce, courts make decisions. The judge will order visitation times, child support math, and decision-making powers. These issues have lasting impact.
But the judge doesn’t start from zero. Texas law always prioritizes the “best interest of the child,” which can be defined as “what the child is used to, as long as it’s not unhealthy.”
This is the “status quo” you’ll read about in law firm blog posts. You may have run into it already.
In the father’s rights context, the status quo can be very impactful. American culture usually sets the mother up as the nurturer, the parent with the most direct contact with a child.
Moms often help the kids with school lunches, extracurricular projects, and bedtime. Those factors define the status quo, meaning moms often have a leg up on convincing the judge that the children need to reside primarily with mom.
What’s A Dad To Do?
At the time of a custody order (including one tied up with a divorce), the judge defines a new status quo.
You may have been very involved with bedtime rituals and scouting activities, but if a judge is not convinced that you’re a good manager of the child’s life, you’ll find yourself on the outside.
This means the initial order is so very important. It sets the tone for all future legal questions around the raising of your child. Don’t take it lightly.
You may be tempted to “work it out” with mom, to go with the flow just to be done. And you may even feel like you’re doing the noble thing.
But if you don’t assert your rights now, you’ll set in motion a series of assumptions about your relationship with your child that will impact you for the rest of his or her life.
You Need To Stand Up
At the firm of Angela Faye Brown and Associates, we encourage KidFirst Decision Making. It is a set of principles we hold ourselves and our clients to that helps avoid drama and keep a child healthy.
Although we prioritize agreement between parents – parents who agree to a final order tend to be much more successful in following that order – we do not encourage our dads to withdraw from the fight.
You need to decide what being a KidFirst dad means to you.
You may want us to fight for you over visitation, or support, or decision-making. Step 1 is to set your priorities and make sure they’re in line with ours.
You Need A Different Kind of Guide
Lawyers are not all the same. We’re human beings. We bring our personalities, perspectives, and priorities to the job. Even good lawyers disagree about what matters in a custody case.
Our priority is clear: we protect your kids.
That may sound obvious, but it isn’t. Our ethical responsibilities require us to put our clients first. Your children will not be our clients, you will. But we never work with parents who won’t put their children first. With that standard, we know that protecting your children means we are also protecting you.
Our method is simple: KidFirst Decision Making.
Using KidFirst Decision Making, we obsessively work to reduce drama. That leads to reduced costs, reasonable timeframes, and – most importantly – healthier children.
If you are a KidFirst dad, you can feel confident that you’ve found the right firm to help guide your family through this difficult time.
It Begins With Our Founding Attorney
Angela Faye Brown is definitely a unique lawyer. Long before considering law school, Angela cared about how law and policy impact kids.
She earned two public policy degrees from the University of Texas at Austin before returning to law school at U.T. During law school, she took up children’s issues as student counsel in the Children’s Rights Clinic.
Under the supervision of such legal luminaries as Jack Sampson (he literally wrote the book on Texas family law), Angela represented children who’d been removed from their homes in Child Protective Services cases. These children showed Angela the courage, confusion, and concern found inside every child in trouble.
Now, as a new mother herself, Angela appreciates the importance of the parent child relationship in a special way. It’s natural for a parent to shield children from unnecessary harm, and she gets why you want that so much. Angela’s experience and priorities make her a uniquely qualified guide for you and your family.
The Path You’re On
Whether you’re facing custody case inside a divorce or one that stands on its own, you’ll walk a similar journey. Here’s a simple outline of a KidFirst custody case:
- KidFirst Custody Strategy Session: Every new client receives a Strategy Session with the firm. These are more than just meet and greets with your attorney. You’ll walk out with a plan, a look into potential responses from the other side and the best answers, and a budget. You’ll get the information needed to make good choices.
- New Client Welcome: All new clients will receive in-depth instruction from the firm on what to expect as your case moves forward. We will educate you on the issues you’ll face, the decisions you’ll need to make, and roadblocks to look out for. We’ll also help you identify which issues are best solved through the law and which require specialized expertise outside the firm. We’ll connect you with qualified providers to help you on this journey.
- Expert Drafting: Custody cases (including divorces) begin with a petition, but this is no form letter. A properly crafted petition begins a narrative that will unfold throughout your case. It is a document that protects you and your child, and puts the other party on notice.
- Temporary Orders: Most custody cases require a temporary orders hearing. This is a contested court visit, a sort of mini trial. It sets the rules for the litigation and orders the parties to reveal certain information. The hearing allows you to take control early and not let the other party dictate terms. Temporary orders give you defined powers and responsibilities.
- Discovery: If you’ve ever seen a lawyer show, you’ve seen someone drop a big box of papers on a courthouse table. Those documents come through a process called discovery. It’s a tool that allows the parties to see the other side’s hand, and begin to formulate a plan. Not every case requires full discovery, which can become quite expensive, so we use only the levels of discovery needed to make informed decisions.
- Settlement Conference/Negotiations: During this phase, we engage in informal negotiations for you. We exchange proposals with the other side in an attempt to focus the issues. It’s common in divorce cases for lawyers to stir up trouble by overcomplicating the negotiation process. We’ve handled so many agreements that we know how to get you what you want without letting the fog of war throw us off track.
- Mediation: A mediation is a way for parties to negotiate more formally. They often take a full day, but can cover every issue that remains after informal negotiations. We will prepare for mediation with an eye to resolution. If a case closes at mediation with an agreement, you could avoid significant litigation fees. Studies show that mediation participants are also more likely to follow a court’s order, helping you avoid years of drama in the future.
- Agreed Order/Decree: If informal negotiations or the mediation work, we’ll have the outline of an agreement. Your lawyer team will then turn those few pages into an effective, enforceable order with a long-term view. We want you to avoid future fights, and a properly drafted and entered order helps you do that.
Nearly every custody case follows this 8-step path. Because we know how that path will generally look, we can give you helpful estimates of timeframes and budgets. If things don’t go as planned, however, our billing structure will allow you to move forward with more intense litigation. We’ll have gathered the information needed to tell your story well before the court.
- Litigation Phase: Some cases require a court to finish. We cannot fully control whether this happens because we can’t control the other side, but the steps we’ll have taken before in drafting, discovery, and negotiations will help limit the drama. Be assured that KidFirst Decision Making will continue to inform how we work during the Litigation Phase. We won’t push you into more fight than you need to take care of your children.
It’s Time To Be A KidFirst Dad
Now, you have to make a decision. You have to trust someone. You have to invest that trust, which has both personal and financial implications, into a guide.
What will you choose?
If you believe you can be a KidFirst dad, we’d like to talk to you. We can’t tell you that contacting us means you qualify for our services. We don’t take every prospective client who wishes to hire us. We take only KidFirst parents. Is that you?
Avoid The Drama, Win For Your Kids
We don’t know yet what “winning” means for you. It could be a matter of custody, child support, property division, or just freedom. Whatever your reason to stand up for yourself before a court, we want to stand up with you.
The KidFirst Strategy Session is your next step, but it’s not your final step. At the end of this journey, you will know your definition of success and you will be closer to it. You’ll have more independence, personal power, and peace for your children.
If these things motivate you – if you are ready to discover what KidFirst Decision Making means for you – schedule a session with us now.
(Before you go, check out the form on the right side of this page. It’s for people who aren’t yet ready to talk to an attorney about their custody roadmap. We’ll give you a list of 5 simple tips to keep your kids safe and protected RIGHT NOW. So go get that list, and we’ll talk more later.)