Texas Child Custody FAQ
WHAT IS TEXAS LAW IN REGARD TO CHILD CUSTODY?
“Custody” means conservatorship in the Texas Family Code. Some examples of what all this entails are:
- Making the decision of where the child will live primarily
- Making decisions regarding nonemergency invasive medical procedures
- Making decisions on psychological and psychiatric care
- Making decisions regarding education
- Sharing and exchanging of information regarding the child’s physical and emotional well-being
- Making legal decisions for the child
- Right to consent to the child’s marriage or enlistment in armed forces
DOES ONLY ONE PARENT GET AWARDED CHILD CUSTODY?
There are two types of conservatorships in Texas:
- Joint managing conservatorship (most common)
- Sole managing conservatorship
DO I HAVE TO GO TO COURT FOR CHILD CUSTODY?
In the state of Texas, no one has legal custody of a child unless there is a court order. Therefore, if the parents are not in agreement on all issues, a “custody” case should be initiated. However, even in circumstances where both parents are in agreement, it is still in your best interest to have the parents put the agreement in writing and have it signed by a judge. If parents are unable to reach an agreement on all issues, a case with the court is initiated by one party, and both parties will attend the court to determine if court intervention is the best way to decide on the issues. Frequently, parties will attend mediation to have a third-party attorney attempt to work out their differences. Otherwise, the parties will find themselves involved in trial. Whether you are needing to begin a new child custody case or you find yourself in the middle of the case preparing for trial, it is extremely desirable to have an experienced attorney who can protect your rights and guide you through this difficult time. Please contact The Law Firm of Joseph Lassen at +1-210-625-6540 for a free consultation to discuss your case.
WHEN WILL CHILD CUSTODY BE DECIDED?
It is normal for there to be a temporary order put in place by agreement or by the court during the pendency of the remaining portion of the case. In this type of order, “custody” is temporarily determined until such a time when a final order can be put in place. If all parties are in agreement for an order, you can generally get through the “custody” process in about 60–90 days. However, each family law case is different. Though you may be able to work things out on your side, this does not mean that the other side will be able to work as quickly as you do. In the event of a disputed custody case, you should be prepared to spend well over 90 days in the process while discovery is gathered and other action items are completed.
HOW DOES A COURT DECIDE WHO SHOULD BE THE PRIMARY CONSERVATOR OF A CHILD?
The primary parent is awarded the right to designate the primary residence of the child. The court determines who has primarily been caring for the child during the child’s life and examines the child’s routine care while that parent or caretaker is in possession of the child. If the court determines the caretaker/parent has legal standing to continue taking care of the child, that person is usually awarded the right to determine the legal residence of the child. However, if it is determined that the caretaker or parent usually in possession of the child is not providing the child’s basic needs and/or is putting the child in harm’s way, or is unable to fulfill the role of primary caretaker better than the other parent, the court may decide to remove the child from that environment and place the child in a more suitable living arrangement where the child can have their needs met on a consistent basis.
HOW DOES VISITATION WORK IN TEXAS?
The Texas Family Code defines visitation as access to or possession of a child. Visitation or possession of a child can work in so many different ways. The possibilities are endless, from setting up a unique schedule for a police officer or flight attendant, to having a 50/50 visitation split between the parents. For parents who are not able to work these things out between themselves, the court will determine what is in the best interest of the child. Most often, this means the implementation of a standard possession order. This is the typical first, third and fifth weekends of the month with every Thursday evening and alternating holidays.
CAN I REFUSE VISITATION IF CHILD SUPPORT IS NOT PAID?
No, child support and visitation are two different considerations made by the court. Refusing court-ordered visitation could end up in court action against you, with penalties that are just as severe as not paying support.
CAN A JUDGE ORDER SUPERVISED VISITATION OR NO VISITATION?
Of course. However, please note that you must prove to the court that the child is in immediate danger while alone in the presence of the other parent or caretaker. Simply not liking the other parent does not warrant supervised visitation. It must be proven that the other parent is incapable of safely interacting with the child without supervision. Back to top of page For any other questions you may have, please contact The Law Firm of Joseph Lassen at +1-210-625-6540 for a free consultation or send your questions.