Divorce is a difficult enough situation, but is made that much more emotional when children are involved in the divorce agreement. Each parent wants an equal say in the raising of the child and regular access to the child, which can sometimes be difficult depending on outside circumstances. If you are currently going through a divorce or contemplating a divorce, do not hesitate to contact an experienced family law attorney who can advise you on all child custody issues.
The Texas Family Code provides guidance and the laws in Texas relating to child custody. Suits Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship (or "SAPCRs") are attached to divorce proceedings if children were a product of the marriage. If a child custody case is not attached to a divorce hearing, the SAPCR can be brought separately if the parents were never married. Many child custody agreements can be settled without court intervention, but if two parties cannot come to an agreement, they will have to bring it into family court where the court will decide how to divide custody.
Texas courts prefer parents to have shared custody, which means that each parent will be what Texas law refers to as a "joint managing conservator." The court will often look at the following factors when taking into account custody arrangements:
Texas makes it difficult for parents to lose access to their child and courts frequently look at a laundry list of what Texas law refers to as the "best interests of the child." If a court does decide against joint conservatorship, one parent will be the sole managing conservator and the other will be a possessory conservator. Both parents will have rights of access to the child, although the sole managing conservator will have more of a say in the child's upbringing, as well as everyday decisions. The possessory conservator will only have heightened parental rights during periods of visitation.
The parents or the court will come up with a parenting plan, loosely based on guidance in the Texas Family Code, which outlines all visitation, holidays, and parental rights during visits and other times. Parents are encouraged to draft their own parenting plan, and technology now allows parents to communicate visually with their children on a daily basis even if they are unable to physically be with them, through Skype or FaceTime.
Child custody arrangements can be modified if a substantial event takes place (such as a move to a different country) or if the child requests a change.
If you are going through a difficult child custody dispute, you understand the urgency of coming to a peaceful agreement. Divorce is a difficult time for everyone involved, but it is important not to forget the needs and wants of your child. Attorney Ned Gill will assist you in developing a custody agreement that suits the best needs of your child and ensures that you continue to have access to all the important moments and decisions in your child's life.