Child custody deals with custodial awards or determinations involving a minor child. A minor is legally defined in Texas as any child under the age of eighteen (18). Custody battles most often arise in situations where the parents cannot reach an agreement on who will have custody of their child following their divorce. In these situations, the court must step in and make a determination based on the best interests of the child regarding which parent will be awarded “legal” and/or “physical” custody. In situations like this, it is important to have a responsible child custody lawyer on your side.
Legal custody – determines who will have the right to make decisions for the child involving education, religion, medical issues, and discipline.
Physical custody – determines with which parent the child will reside.
In a sole custody situation, one person (generally a parent, but may be a grandparent, other family member, or another adult deemed fit by the Travis County courts) is awarded full legal and physical custody. Joint custody means that the parents will share legal and/or physical custody of their children.
Even after the issue of your child or children’s custody is settled, your legal issues may continue. The court can require you to consult with each other prior to any major decisions being made for your child. Any disagreements along the way may be resolved by going to mediation, returning to court, or by one parent being awarded final decision-making power. This authority may be broad or limited to emergency situations, or be specifically related to certain areas of the child’s life.
Whether the child custody issues you face are the initial determination of physical or legal custody, a court battle over custody, or ongoing custodial issues, our law firm can provide highly experienced advice and advocacy.
Child Custody Questions
In order for one parent to have “sole managing conservatorship”, there must be severe reasons negatively affecting the physical health or emotional development of the child.
The “joint” aspect of conservatorship refers to the fact that each parent has certain rights and duties regarding the children. Some rights and duties always belong to both parties; some may belong only to one party; some belong to one of the parties while they have possession of the children; and some are shared by the parties.
Normally, the visiting parent is given a Standard Possession Order. There are separate guidelines for those parents who live within 100 miles of each other and for those who live more than 100 miles apart.
The most important aspects of the order deal with weekends and mid-week visitation. Usually, weekend visitation begins at 6:00 on the first, third and fifth Friday of the month and ends at 6:00 p.m. on Sunday. Mid-week visitation is 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. on Thursday of each week during the regular school term.
There is a special schedule for holidays, spring and summer vacations.
The parties can also agree to some variations of the Standard Possession Order to meet their specific needs. In that case, they would have a “Modified Possession Order.”
Sometimes the parties compromise by agreeing to a less severe type of restriction, such as to “Texas.”
Visitation, in this case, may not be allowed except in a specific time and place, and with another adult present. Visitation may be ordered to occur through a special program called SAFE.
The child may file an affidavit regarding living preferences at age twelve or older.
The amicus attorney talks to the parties and the children and visits their homes; and may talk to teachers, doctors, counselors and other family members. The purpose is to gain enough information to be able to make an informed recommendation to the Court on the conservator ship and visitation issues.