IN CUSTODY CASES, HIRING AN ATTORNEY WITH EXPERIENCE MATTERS
Child custody is the most important issue in many divorces, and one of the main reasons for lengthy contested divorce cases. When it comes to having access to your children, there is no decision more important than choosing a custody lawyer with experience. When it comes to custody, don’t settle for anything but the best legal counsel. Jeff Anderson is board certified in family law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and has represented clients just like you in hundreds of custody battles.
Texas Child Custody Lawyers Serving Dallas and San Antonio
There are many important influences and factors playing a part in the rearing of a child in addition to just the parents: siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, teachers, coaches, mentors…the list is extensive. Truthfully, children do not typically grow up in isolation. In a child custody case, there can be a large cast of players affecting the outcome.
Best Interest of the Child
In a child custody dispute, the court’s number one objective is determining what is in the child’s best interests as it relates to how the parent-child relationship will be constructed going forward.
The court will make a determination with respect to custody starting with who it designates as “conservators” of the child.
Conservatorship is a term that the Texas Court uses for a person with rights and duties with respect to a child (including a right to possession). It typically is a parent of the child.
However, there are instances when a conservator could be someone else, e.g. a grandparent, an uncle, etc. Therefore, the Courts of this state use the nomenclature “conservator” because it could represent a broad group.
Stereotypes in Awarding Custody of a Child
Often when it comes to matters of child custody cases, we still see things through a prism of past stereotype and dated social norms. People may think that because women carry a gestational burden and frequently follow a gender role norm as “nurturing caretaker” for a child that they would be the party “always” awarded the greater share of rights and duties respective to the child.
That notion is not true by statute. Pursuant to the Texas Family Code, the Courts are to make their determinations without regard to sex or marital status.
Here’s another myth to dispel: When you watch TV or movie drama, you will often hear a character state something along the lines of: “I fought for sole custody.” Well, in Texas “sole managing conservatorship” is something that could happen, but it’s not as common as joint custody. Sole managing conservatorship would provide that one parent would have the right to designate the primary residence of the child, make educational decisions, consent to medical treatment of the child, etc, all to the exclusion of the other parent. That means the other parent does not get a voice to such important decisions.
In Texas law the presumption is that both parents should, and will, play an active role in the daily lives of their child. No matter how badly you want to have your ex-spouses parental rights canceled, Texas family code makes that process difficult except in a few specific situations. The state of Texas has replaced the term ‘custody’ with the term ‘conservatorship’ in the Texas family law code. No matter where your child custody issues lie, an experienced child custody lawyer can help you find the correct approach to legally protect your relationship with your child.
Types of Custody in Texas Family Code
Texas Family Law Code defines different types of custody arrangements very specifically, with unique titles and documents for child custody cases in Texas. But don’t worry if you are unfamiliar with the lingo; as long as your custody attorney is well versed and experienced in child custody laws like Jeff Anderson you should be in good hands.
- Joint Conservatorship aka Joint Custody
- Sole Managing Conservatorship aka Sole Custody
- Possessory Conservator aka Non-custodial Parent
- SAPCR aka Custody Lawsuit
- Custody Modifications
Joint Conservatorship (Joint Custody)
In Texas joint conservatorship means the same thing as joint custody. After a divorce, custody rights in Texas start with determining conservatorship. A child’s conservator is the parent who makes the child’s most important daily decisions. The conservator decides where the child attends school, if the child will play sports, which doctor they will see, and hundreds of other important issues in the child’s life. The Courts in Texas are strongly inclined to deem both parents as joint conservators unless there is a specific and compelling reason as to why this would not be possible. Unless the court decides that circumstances make it extremely difficult or impossible for the parents to make important decisions together, joint conservatorship is likely.
Sole Managing Conservatorship (Sole Custody)
In Texas, sole managing conservatorship is basically the same thing as sole custody. If there are difficult or impossible circumstances preventing joint custody, a Texas court will decide that one of the parents is the sole managing conservator. This means that the other parent will be the possessory conservator, or the parent with visitation rights. The child will almost certainly live with the parent with sole conservatorship and that parent will make all of the child’s important decisions.
Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship (SAPCR)
In Texas, a lawsuit that involves the interest of a child is called a SAPCR, which stands for suit affecting the parent-child relationship. Any couple that is separating and has a child together, whether or not they are married, will fall under a SAPCR. This is the process used to determine which parent will have custody of the child, and the specifics of parental responsibility moving forward. The guiding principle in Texas is always the best interest of the child.
Modifications To Child Custody in Texas
It is possible to change any child custody order. In addition, child support and child visitation orders modifications are possible as part of a divorce decree modification. The method by which such an order is changed is called a modification suit. Ultimately, to win such a modification, the parent seeking the change must show:
- that there has been a material and substantial change in circumstances since the last order of the court or agreement of the parties and
- that the requested change is in the child’s best interest.
If you think you qualify to modify child custody or would like to speak with an attorney and receive their professional opinion, give us a call.
Paternity Issues with Custody
In the case of unmarried parents, any dispute of child custody, child support and child visitation depends on the status of the father. Based on the dispute in question and the status of the father, the court will determine the next step. Establishing paternity through DNA testing is a popular choice, but sometimes paternity can be established by paperwork alone. Get in contact with us to learn more, and our attorneys can help you.
Contact An Experienced Child Custody Attorney in North Texas
Child custody disputes can be extremely difficult. There is nothing more important than the health, safety and development of your children. Jeff Anderson is an aggressive, strategic, and compassionate child custody lawyer who has handled hundreds of local and international custody cases. He will help put your mind at ease by crafting an effective legal strategy that you agree with and fully understand. If you have any questions about child custody in Texas, contact Jeff Anderson today at (972) 248-8383 or online here.