Child Custody in Texas
Custody disputes involving your precious children can become contentious and bitter. That’s why it’s wise having on your side a Dallas family law attorney from Corbett & Corbett LLP. To help you understand the process a little better we developed this short and brief guide. We can also explain the process and answer your questions in person if you prefer to schedule a consultation or call us.
Under Texas law, parents can file a custody case in Texas if the child resides in the state or the child resided in the state for six months before the custody case. A parent in Texas who wishes to initiate a child custody case should provide the court with the following information:
❏ Child’s address
❏ Place where the child has lived for the past five years
❏ Names and addresses of individuals whom the child has lived with for the past five years, along with the names and addresses of those who have claimed physical and/or legal custody of the child for the past five years
Our attorneys will ensure all these requirements are met before initiating a case.
We work hard to help our clients achieve their conservatorship goals. Here’s some specific information about the conservatorship process. Texas courts divide child custody issues into two categories: conservatorship (custody) and possession and access (visitation). Child custody is known as conservatorship, which describes the legal rights and responsibilities of a parent, such as who decides for the child issues regarding schooling, medical decisions, and psychiatric decisions, among many other things. A child’s custodian or parent is known as a “conservator,” and a Texas family law court will decide conservatorship unless there is a written agreement.
Possession and access refer to when the parents have physical custody of the children or when they can visit with the children.
Rights of Conservatorship in Texas
Conservatorship (Custody) includes the right to:
❏ Receive information from any other conservator of the child about the health, education, and welfare of the child;
❏ Access to medical, dental, psychological, and educational records of the child;
❏ Right to consult with a physician, dentist, or psychologist of the child;
❏ Consult with school officials about the child’s welfare and educational status, including school activities;
❏ Ability to consent to medical, dental, and surgical treatment during an emergency involving an immediate danger to the health and safety of the child; and more.
Please remember this guide is a brief summary of custody/conservatorship law; however, our attorneys understand this process very well.
A child’s custodian or parent is known as a “conservator,” and a Texas family law court will decide conservatorship unless there is a written agreement.
Types of Conservatorship (Custody)
There are two types of conservatorship (custody) in Texas:
❏ Joint managing conservatorship (JMC)
❏ Sole managing conservatorship (SMC)
Joint Managing Conservatorship (JMC)
In Texas, joint managing conservatorship or custody usually means that both parents equally decide and make the child’s legal decisions, such as the child’s physical care, medical care, and schooling, but the child predominantly lives with one parent.
Texas law and courts prefer awarding joint custody arrangements to parents, so the child maintains a close relationship with both parents. This does not mean, however, that the courts will give equal periods of physical possession of and access to the child to each of the joint conservators. Usually, the child will predominantly live with one parent even with joint “custody.” The Court will then decide a separate visitation schedule known as a standard possession order of the visitation of the other parent of whom the child does not predominantly live. Parents can either agree on a schedule, or the judge will order a schedule he or she thinks is in the best interests of the child.
The court will decide conservatorship (custody) based on what is in the best interest of the child.
Sole Managing Conservatorship (SMC)
SMC means the court grants only one parent the legal right to make certain decisions about the child. There are many reasons a court could grant one parent SMC, such as the other parent has a history of violence or neglect, the other parent has a history of drugs or criminal activity, the other parent has been absent from the child’s life, and many more. Our attorneys can help you seek sole managing conservatorship if you desire.
How is Conservatorship Decided?
The court will decide conservatorship (custody) based on what is in the best interest of the child. Section 153.002 of the Texas Family Code describes the “best interests of the child” standard, which states “the best interest of the child shall always be the primary consideration of the court in determining the issues of conservatorship and possession of and access to the child.” This standard means the court will evaluate several factors to determine whose custody would be in the best interest of the child. For example, the court will look into each parent’s ability to serve as a caretaker, each parent’s employment situation (including travel and work hours), the home environment of each parent, the distance between the parents’ homes, whether the parents can work together in raising the child. Further, the court considers each parent’s financial circumstances and the child’s preference if the child is at least 12 years old and much more. We’ll help our clients present to the judge the most favorable case possible that’s consistent with the best interest of the child standard.
Standard Visitation Schedule
The Texas Family Code lists the following as standard visitation rights for the noncustodial parent. This order can be changed based on the best interests of the child and other factors.
If the possessory conservator resides 100 miles or less from the primary residence of the child, the possessory conservator shall have the right to possession of the child:
❏ Beginning at 6 pm every first, third, and fifth Friday of each month, and ending at 6 pm on the following Sunday;
❏ On Thursdays of each week during the regular school term beginning at 6 p.m. and ending at 8 p.m., unless the court finds this visitation is not in the best interest of the child.
Texas custody laws can be complicated and can take a toll on parents and children if a knowledgeable custody and family lawyer isn’t protecting their rights. The stress can be even higher with CPS custody cases. Seek out a detailed case consultation and evaluation with one of our Dallas child custody attorneys today.
We must stress this isn’t legal advice. It’s brief and introductory information about the custody process. Our attorneys are trained to use this and lots of other laws and procedures to accomplish the best outcomes for our clients. We cannot guarantee a result but we’ll work hard to achieve the best possible outcome. Call us today.