Determining the custody of a minor child when parents are no longer living together can be extremely complicated and emotional.
At the law offices of Simer & Tetens, our child custody lawyers in Waco, TX can help.
We can assist you with the following and more:
- Understanding our state’s laws surrounding the custody of children;
- Understanding your rights are in regards to custody of your child; and
- Reaching a child custody agreement with your spouse or former partner.
Types of Child Custody Arrangements in Texas
In today’s world, parents may reach a parenting agreement that allows them both to have custody and visitation rights. They may also both want the power to make decisions about the child’s life.
In fact, having both parents equally involved in the child’s upbringing is often preferable. Courts call this a joint custody agreement.
In other words, joint custody means both parents participate in providing care for the child. They also work together to make decisions about the child’s life.
Texas recognizes physical custody and legal custody as two distinct custody types. Ideally, parents may share both. But, if a relationship is especially contentious or other there are other circumstances, physical custody may be given to one parent only. Legal custody (the ability to make decisions about the child’s upbringing and life) will be shared.
It is rare for a parent’s visitation rights to be completely revoked. It is also rare for only one parent to make decisions about a child’s education, healthcare, religion, etc.
Reaching a Child Custody Arrangement in Waco
When parents do not plan to live together and raise a child together in one household, they must come to an agreement about the child’s care. One way to help separated parents prepare for the challenges of co-parenting a child is to create a parenting plan.
A parenting plan–the creation and adoption of which is often ordered by the court–is a plan that details the following:
- Where a child will live.
- What the visitation rights of the other parent will be.
- Who will make decisions about the child’s life.
- How the child will be transported from one parent’s home to the other’s.
- And various other child-rearing specifics.
Parents are strongly encouraged to work together when they create a parenting plan or child custody arrangement. In addition, they should reach an agreement via negotiation and mediation.
When both parents come to an agreement on their own, there is often less resentment about following the terms. Because of this, the relationship between parents is usually more amicable – which is very important for the child’s well-being.
In the event that parents cannot reach an agreement about their child’s care, they must turn to the court to make a decision for them.
If a court must make a child custody determination, it will do so based on the child’s best interests. According to the Texas Family Code, there are numerous factors that the court may consider in determining a child’s best interests.
This includes the physical and mental needs of the child, the ability and willingness of each parent to foster a loving relationship between the child and the other parent, the child’s wishes, and more.
Factors of Getting Custody in Texas
If parents cannot come to a custody agreement on one or more issues, the court must decide for them. When parents show a desire to come to an agreement, the court is more likely to consider their wishes.
In making child custody determinations, the courts will consider the child’s best interests first and foremost. According to the Texas Family Code, the court considers multiple aspects of a situation to determine what is in a child’s best interest.
These factors include the child’s physical and mental needs and each parent’s ability to provide for their child. In addition, the court will determine the ability and willingness of each parent to foster a loving relationship.
The court may also examine the strain of adjusting to a new home or school and their relationships with other family members. Depending on the child’s age, the court might also consider what the child wants to do.
Texas’ goals are to make sure that children have frequent and continuing contact with their parents. Courts want to provide a safe, stable, and nonviolent environment for the child. The court will not consider the sex or marital status of parents in determining custody. It will look only at the parents’ qualifications.
Types of Custody in Texas
Courts in Texas recognize two kinds of custody, physical custody, and legal custody.
- Physical custody is a parent’s right to have their child live with them.
- Legal custody is a parent’s right to make important long-term decisions about the child’s upbringing, including religion, education, and healthcare.
In most cases, both parents are joint conservators, meaning they will share physical and legal custody of their child. Courts usually want to give children the opportunity to have both parents involved in their lives. A court will rarely deny a parent their visitation or decision-making rights.
Sometimes, though, other issues might cause the court to grant physical or legal custody to a single parent if it’s in the child’s best interest. In that case, the court will name one parent a sole conservator. The most common example is where one parent has shown a pattern of abuse toward their child or the other parent.
Generally, it’s challenging to modify a court order granting custody and visitation rights once it is in place. Either both parents must agree to modify it, or one parent must have a compelling change in their situation. Additionally, sometimes a child’s needs change as they get older, which can be a basis for requesting a modification.
How Our Child Custody Lawyers in Waco, TX Can Help
Our lawyers will be by your side to explain to you the different factors a court considers in reaching a child custody determination, and what you can do to improve the chances of a judge ruling in your favor.
Before it even gets to that, though, we can represent you in negotiations with your spouse and help you to understand the value of compromise.
Going to court is not only contentious, but also expensive and time-consuming, too – our Waco, TX child custody attorneys work hard to help you and your spouse reach an out-of-court agreement that considers everyone’s needs and puts your child’s interests first.
Call Our Child Custody Lawyers, Waco, TX Today
The idea of losing custody of your child is likely extremely hard to come to terms with.
One thing that you can do to even the playing field–especially if your (ex) spouse has retained legal counsel–is to hire a skilled child custody lawyer who will work hard for you.
At Simer & Tetens, our lawyers understand how sensitive child custody cases can be and will approach your case competently and aggressively. We are passionate about helping families like yours.