Fighting For The Best Interests Of Your Children
The perspective in state law on child custody matters has significantly shifted over the past several decades, resulting in changes to the ways courts approach these cases. Still, the priority remains the same: preserving the “best interests” of every child, even if those interests run counter to the desires of one parent.
Courts make various assumptions in accordance with state law about what is best for a child, so if you want to challenge those assumptions in any way, you should seek help from the attorneys at Angela Faye Brown & Associates. Whether you agree with your co-parent about the parenting schedule or there is some dispute, an experienced Houston child custody lawyer can help you pursue an outcome to your case that protects your best interests and those of your children.
Determining Who Gets ‘Conservatorship’ Rights
State law uses the term “conservatorship” rather than “custody” to refer to parental rights and responsibilities over a child. Likewise, the state uses the terms “managing conservatorship” and “possessory conservatorship” to refer to what other states respectively call “legal custody” and “physical custody.”
As per Texas Family Code §153.131, family courts in Houston operate under a “rebuttable presumption,” which assumes that granting joint managing conservatorship to both parents is in a child’s best interests. When it comes to possessory conservatorship, though, courts generally give parents broad authority to come up with an arrangement for who the child will stay with at specific times and what visitation rights the noncustodial parent will have when they do not have the child living with them.
If a child’s parents cannot agree on an equitable split of custody rights, the court overseeing their case has the authority to make an independent decision regarding both managing and possessory conservatorship of the children. The court may consider various factors when making this kind of child custody decision, all of which one of our caring Houston attorneys can explain.
Factors That Courts Consider When Ruling On Custody Cases
According to TX Fam. Code §153.002, courts deciding on custody matters must always hold the best interests of the child as their primary consideration. However, the statute does not go into detail about any specific factors that a court should focus on when determining what custody arrangement serves a child’s “best interests.” Instead, courts generally follow several factors that should be considered before any decision is made on a custody matter. These factors, which may not all be applicable in every situation, include:
- The child’s wishes, if they are of a certain age
- The child’s current and future physical and emotional needs
- Whether the child is in any emotional or physical danger from one or both parents
- The capacity of the parent(s) seeking custody to understand and actively meet the child’s needs
- The availability of programs and services that a parent with custody can use to help meet their child’s needs
- The future plans of the parent(s) seeking custody
- The stability of each parent’s home
- Any history of emotional instability and/or substance addiction in either parent
A Houston lawyer can help a parent determine what factors may play a role in a court’s child custody decision.
Frequently Asked Questions We Receive On Child Custody
Even under the best of circumstances, addressing child custody in a legal setting can be nerve-wracking and intimidating. Our lawyers strive to help parents feel informed and confident about their options. Below are our responses to common questions we receive from our clients.
What is the difference between the three types of conservatorships in Texas?
In Texas, there are three different types of conservatorships: joint managing conservatorships, sole managing conservatorships and possessory conservatorships. Managing conservatorships, whether joint or sole, grant a parent the right to make decisions for their child about important matters like education, health care and religious upbringing. Possessory conservatorships identify which parent will be living with the child and providing for their day-to-day needs.
Can an existing child custody order be modified?
There are only a few circumstances under which a court may grant a modification of an existing child custody order. The most common of these circumstances is a “material and substantial change” in the circumstances of one parent, both parents or the child that makes the prior arrangement no longer suitable for the child’s needs and best interests. Our lawyers can provide crucial assistance in building a compelling child custody case in this regard.
The court may grant a modification request if the custodial parent voluntarily gives up possessory conservatorship to someone else for at least six months, so long as military service is not the reason for their relinquishing of primary care.
How does child custody factor into child support?
Child custody and child support are closely intertwined. Typically, the court will order the noncustodial parent to pay child support to the custodial parent. However, this is not always the case and, in some circumstances, the custodial parent may need to pay. Courts consider several factors when determining child support, including both parents’ income, benefits and other forms of compensation.
What can you do to help your case?
We understand that as a parent, you might be willing to go to great lengths to protect not only your child but also your relationship with your child. When you work with us, we listen to your story and ask questions to help us understand everything from your background to your child’s needs. We will advise you on anything that might help strengthen your case or improve your chances of success, whatever your goals may be.
We also acknowledge that parents can change and grow. If you were previously in a position where access to your children was denied or removed and you have since put in substantial effort to turn your circumstances around, we can help you demonstrate this in front of a family law judge. We strongly believe in advocating for our clients’ relationships with their children.
Speak With An Experienced Child Custody Attorney Today
Child custody can simultaneously be one of the most legally complicated and emotionally contentious procedures covered under family law, especially if you are already caught up in a difficult divorce. Qualified legal help can make all the difference, not only in how efficiently a case proceeds but also in whether the outcome gives any weight to your own wishes and best interests.
A seasoned child custody lawyer can offer guidance and support throughout every stage of these challenging legal proceedings. Call our Houston office today to learn more at 713-714-3710 or contact us online.