Going through a divorce is very stressful and full of emotion, and child custody battles make things even more difficult. This is why it is paramount to have the right lawyer by your side to help you. When it comes to divorce, child custody is one of the many issues that are important to address. Protecting your child(ren) is your top priority as a parent.
This is where our family attorneys at Bolton Law come into the picture. We understand how difficult it can be to find the best child custody lawyer in Spring, Texas. With many years of experience in this field of law, combined with knowledge of the legalities, skills, professionalism, and out-of-the-box representation, it makes us the right law firm for you.
Take the first step because we are in a position to help you. At Bolton Law, we help people make informed decisions based on the law and take action if necessary on issues that matter. Our family law attorneys in Spring will help you protect your rights and the best interests of your child(ren) during a divorce.
Book a consultation session by calling us at 281-351-7897.
Are There Different Types of Child Custody Agreements in Texas?
The short answer is “YES!” In Texas, there are many child custody agreements, although many of them are not 50/50 based. However, they are all categorized under two groups, which are physical and legal custody. In fact, when it comes to child custody agreements, it is wise to know and understand the difference between the two.
Having legal custody means that you are responsible for important decisions such as where the child will go to school, live, religious instructions they will receive, the doctor they will see, and more. In this case, you may not have physical custody of the child (meaning the child is not living with you), but you may have a say in important things or make decisions on behalf of the child.
During the marriage, you and your spouse likely made these decisions together. As a result, if you divorce, the family court judge will try to keep it that way if at all possible. In Texas, the judge will recommend shared legal custody and the parties will continue to make decisions about the child(ren) jointly. This is legally known as “Joint Legal Custody.”
On the other hand, joint legal custody can quickly become a battleground for parents who are not able to agree on things. This can make life miserable for everyone, including the child. If this happens, the Texas family court has the right to award one parent sole legal custody.
The judge can also award sole custody to one parent if the other:
- Is abusive
- Is neglectful
- Is not involved in a child’s day-to-day life or spending time with the child
- Lives a great distance from where the child lives
It is also possible for the judge to order joint legal custody, but designate one parent as the tie-breaker in cases where disagreements arise. This is a technique used to encourage both parents to get involved or attempt to come up with a resolution, and it is not that different from sole legal custody.
Physical custody refers to where the child will live. In other words, the primary home of the child. A parent who is awarded physical custody is known as a custodial parent. It is important to note that the way custody is ordered at the time of your divorce can affect you later. Physical custody can either be shared or be sole physical custody.
Joint Custody (Shared Custody)
In a perfect world, 50/50 joint physical custody is attained when the child gets to see both parents for an equal amount of time. Often, this depends on both parents’ level of agreement and their desire to provide the same level of care.
However, this is not always the case. In most cases, one parent will receive primary physical custody of the child. For this reason, it is important to note that joint custody does not always refer to exactly a 50/50 time split. It is something close to that.
On the other hand, this can only work if both parents live close to each other and the children can maintain regular activities no matter which house they are in. In cases where the parents do not get along, joint custody is not the best for a child.
Sole Custody (Visitation)
Sole custody refers to a situation where one parent is given sole custody of the child, while the other parent is given scheduled visitations or time with the child. This is known as parenting time or visitation. This is a very common agreement when it comes to child custody cases. The parent with sole custody is known as the “custodial parent,” while the other is known as the “noncustodial parent.”
How Does the Texas Family Court Determine Child Custody?
The Texas court will consider several factors when determining child custody. It is important to note that the primary concern of the court is to make a decision that is in the best interest of the child. Below are just a few examples of the factors the Texas court will consider:
- The relationship that each parent has with their child
- Whether a parent provides a safe and stable environment for the child’s development.
- Each parent’s financial stability
- A history of drug abuse, domestic violence, mental illness, or other behavior that could endanger the child.
- How the decision would impact the child’s social life
- Each parent’s geographical proximity
- If the child is mature or old enough, their preference
Can We Create a Child Custody Plan Without the Court’s Involvement in Texas?
In Texas, parents who wish to create a child custody plan without involving the court have the following options:
Agreed on Parenting Plan
After a divorce, parents are highly encouraged to come up with a plan for their children’s custody and visitation outside of court. That is because it is not only the most affordable option available (by eliminating court costs and others) but is also often the best way of deciding what is best for the child and family.
However, parents are advised to take extra care while making these decisions because of the fragile nature of the affair. This is why it is wise to have a child custody lawyer in Spring, Texas present during negotiations.
Whenever parents come up with a child custody agreement, they must submit it to the family court for approval. The agreement is known as a “parenting plan,” and the court will review the plan to ensure it is in the best interest of the child. If the court sees no issues with the agreement, it will formalize it and make it legally binding.
Alternative Dispute Resolution
If both parents fail to agree on who gets custody but still want to solve the issue out of court, there are three avenues of alternative dispute resolution.
- Negotiation – The parents negotiate and decide on custody and visitation, often with help of an attorney.
- Mediation – A mediator listens to both sides and helps the parents come to an agreement. The court may reject a mediated settlement if either party was guilty of family violence or if the agreement would not be in the child’s best interests.
- Arbitration – The arbitrator makes the final decision and both parties agree to be bound by the decision. Arbitration proceedings are similar to a hearing and both parents give testimony.
What if the Parents Cannot Agree on Any Aspects of Child Custody in Texas?
Even the courts agree that parents are in a better position to make the right decisions for their children. For this reason, they can come up with a child custody plan that is not only beneficial to the child but also for the whole family.
However, sometimes an agreement cannot be reached for one reason or another. In such a situation, the next step is to have the courts determine custody arrangements by going to trial.
Call an Expert Child Custody Lawyer in Spring, TX!
You should never agree to a possession schedule or custody plan that is not in the best interest of your children. Your children’s interests are important. For this reason, our Texas family law attorneys at Bolton Law are ready to help you protect those interests at all costs. If you live in Spring, Texas, and are looking for the best child custody attorney, call us today at 281-351-7897.