The custody of minor children is often the most contentious and stressful aspect of a divorce case. These disputes can be equally as challenging for parents who never married, as well. Your access to your children could shape your relationship with them for the rest of your life, so it is important to give yourself every advantage during these proceedings.
The guidance of a seasoned family law attorney could be crucial to making sure your concerns are heard in court. A child custody lawyer in The Colony will listen to your side of the story and help you develop a strategy to maximize your chances of obtaining a favorable outcome in your case.
In Texas, custody of a minor child is commonly known as conservatorship. There are several types of custody, and it is important to understand the difference between them. An attorney serving The Colony could provide invaluable insight into each type of conservatorship under the law.
Legal custody, referred to as “managing conservatorship” under state law, is a parent’s right to make important decisions regarding how their child is raised, their education, religious upbringing, and medical care.
Physical custody is called “possessory conservatorship” in Texas statutes and describes the right to provide a physical residence for a minor child. A parent with physical custody rights lives with their child on a regular basis. If one parent lives with the child most of the time – meaning parents do not share equal physical custody – they would be considered the child’s primary custodian.
The law presumes that parents will share legal and physical custody of their child, meaning both parties have equal say in these vital decisions and have equal parenting time. However, an exception could be made if evidence is brought of either parent’s unfitness to care for the child in question.
In that case, the court may award decision-making rights to one parent and physical custody to the other if they believe such an arrangement is in a child’s best interests. More often than not, however, parents will share at least one type of custody and split the other if necessary. Specifically, both parents might have equal say in decision-making, but the child only lives with one parent; or the child lives with both parents equally, but only one parent has decision-making rights.
When parents share legal custody, one parent is typically given final decision-making rights, meaning each unresolved conflict defers to that parent’s decision. Parents who share physical custody can develop a schedule for parenting time and visitation that works for both parties. This could involve exchanging custody of the children on alternating weeks or holidays.
However, parents who design their own parenting time schedule must receive court approval. A judge will deny proposed custody arrangements which do not reflect the child’s best interests. If parents cannot reach an agreement, the court will assign a schedule based on either party’s ability and willingness to provide a home for their child.
When it comes to the custody of a minor child, no court decision is ever truly final. Parents can ask the court to alter their existing custody arrangements by filing a Petition to Modify the Parent-Child Relationship.
Changing a custody order is only possible if the existing one would no longer serve the child’s best interest given their new circumstances. Specifically, the circumstances of the child or one of their parents must have changed enough to make their current custody order obsolete.
A child custody attorney in The Colony could assist with modifying a parenting time order.
If you are in a dispute over the custody of a minor child, it is important to go into the process with an understanding of your rights. A local attorney could help prepare you for what to expect and ensure you have all the evidence necessary to prove your position to a judge.
Let a child custody lawyer in The Colony help protect your relationship with your kids. Call today to get started.
Our Law Firm’s approach to your case is based on individual circumstances. Whether it is a simple negotiated settlement, or it requires an aggressive approach, we will protect and defend your best interests.