Child custody is a sensitive subject because it has the potential to be both emotionally and financially draining. Because of this, it is critical that you work with an experienced child custody lawyer, someone who will give you sound legal counsel and guide you through the full range of possible child custody issues including:
- Determining child custody for the first time
- Legal and physical custody
- Modification of existing custody orders
- Enforcement of child custody orders
- Establishing child visitation and access schedules
Bolton Law attorneys take the time to understand our clients’ situations and concerns so we can work with you to develop a sensible, workable plan. Our family law attorneys are soft enough to care and tough enough to take on challenging cases and win.
Call 281-351-7897 to speak to a child custody lawyer in our office today.
Are There Different Types of Child Custody Agreements in Texas?
In a nutshell, legal custody refers to when a parent has the right to raise the child and decide the child’s medical needs, and cultural, educational, and religious upbringing. Physical custody on the other hand refers to possession and access.
In Texas, things are a little different. That is according to the Texas Family Code which uses unconventional terms to describe legal and physical custody. First off, the term custody itself is referred to as conservatorship in Texas.
So, rather than using the terms “legal custody” and “physical custody,” Texas law uses the terms “managing conservatorship” and “possessory conservatorship” instead.
Don’t get it twisted though. While these terms are exclusive to Texas, the basic concepts are pretty similar to the more conventional terms.
Managing Conservatorship (Legal Custody)
Legal custody, or managing conservatorship as Texans would prefer to call it, refers to the role of a parent in making all important decisions about the child’s life such as how the child will be raised, where they will get an education, the religion they will practice, the medication or treatment they will receive, and the activities they will partake in.
According to Texas laws, there needs to be input from both parents when making critical decisions regarding the child’s life. But, if the court finds that joint managing conservatorship is not in the best interest of the child, it can award the conservatorship to one parent.
This usually happens when the decision-making ability of one of the parents has been compromised. You might see this in situations where there is a history of child abuse, domestic violence, or instances of untreated drug or alcohol abuse.
Possessory Conservatorship (Physical Custody)
Texas law gives parents a lot of leeway when it comes to possessory conservatorship, or physical custody. Parents have the freedom to set the terms under which the child will live with each parent and when the parent with whom the child isn’t living can spend time with the child.
If the parents can’t agree on a schedule, the law provides a standard possession order that details how much time each parent will have with the child. The details of the possession order are contingent on how far the parents live from each other. Also, the standard possession order isn’t applicable to children under three years.
Bear in mind that a joint managing conservatorship doesn’t automatically mean the parents will have equal or almost equal possessory time with or access to the child. If the court feels the standard possession order isn’t suitable in a certain case, it can modify the terms. Judges can put constraints on possession orders if they believe it’s for the child’s or parent’s safety or well-being. For instance, the court can restrict a parent from drinking alcohol prior to and when spending time with the child.
If a judge establishes that a parent is unfit to be left alone with a child, they can supply a supervised possession order. This order allows the parent to be around the child only when there is a third party present. Be advised that wrongfully denying access to a child in violation of a court order can land you in trouble. If your spouse is refusing to abide by a court order about custody, our attorneys can help you file a motion for enforcement.
How Does Texas Family Court Determine Child Custody?
When making decisions in any child custody dispute, the best interest of the child is crucial. In Texas, the law specifically states that family courts need to consider the best interest of the child when determining possession of and access to the child and conservatorship.
Courts in Texas consider the following factors in custody decisions:
- The child’s wishes
- The child’s current and future emotional and physical needs
- Any immediate and future emotional and physical danger to the child
- Each parent’s parental abilities
- The custody programs available to assist parents who want to contribute to the best interests of their child
- Each parent’s plan for their child
- The stability of the home
- Any actions or inactions that may indicate that the parents don’t have the capacity for a proper parent-child relationship, and
- Any justifications the parents may have for those actions and inactions.
The term “the best interest of the child” doesn’t necessarily mean the child’s preference is irrevocable in court. Apart from certain circumstances, the court will have the final say on which parent will live with the child, or whether the child can spend time with a parent until the child turns 18.
At Bolton Law, we can help you get a favorable verdict. Our child custody lawyers can pursue actions to ensure you get custody of your child. We can also help you get an existing order modified if your family’s circumstances change.
Can We Create a Child Custody Plan Without the Court’s Involvement in Texas?
In Texas, a child custody plan is known as a parenting plan. This document addresses how disputes involving children – like child support, possession, and conservatorship – will be dealt with after a family law case.
If you and your spouse have decided to end your relationship, it’s essential that you develop a child custody plan instead of letting the court decide what’s best for your family. A good child custody plan will center around what’s in the best interest of your child and will help to set the tone for a more positive post-divorce relationship.
Instead of letting the court decide what’s best for your family, you need to go the extra mile to make mutual parenting plans with your partner. A good child custody plan will help set the tone for a good post-divorce relationship. You and your ex-partner can discuss the primary challenges that you will endure. A nicely written parenting agreement outlines the schedule including the responsibilities of each parent in the children’s upbringing.
Some parents may have a shared custody agreement that lets the child have frequent contact with each parent half of the time. Other parenting plans may limit one parent’s contact to weekends and maybe an overnight or mid-week visit.
When parents mutually agree on a parenting plan, there are far fewer conflicts and misunderstandings. While you don’t need to involve the court in the creation of the plan, the court will need to verify that the parenting plan meets the standard of what is in the best interest of the child. Of course, you never want to sign any legal documents without your attorney present.
Bolton Law attorneys are experienced with child custody matters and can help you come up with a parenting plan that works for both parents while prioritizing the needs of the child.
What if the Parents Cannot Agree on Any Aspect of Child Custody in Texas?
If the parents fail to reach an agreement, they can request a trial. The court will then determine parental agreements. Alternatively, the parents can partake in mediation to come up with an appropriate child custody plan.
Contact a Child Custody Lawyer in The Woodlands
Bolton Law offers the best child custody and child support lawyers in The Woodlands, Texas. No matter the situation, our seasoned child custody, and support lawyers are here to take your call at 281-351-7897. You can also contact us online.
No matter what your child custody situation is, our experienced attorneys are here to help you. Call 281-351-7897 today to schedule a consultation.
If you are in the Woodlands or surrounding areas, our child custody attorneys are here and ready to assist you.