Child custody arrangements are some of the most important considerations addressed in family court. When both parents feel they should have primary or sole custody, a protracted legal fight often ensues. Having an experienced child custody lawyer in Dallas by your side can be critical.
Ideally, both parents share the joys and responsibilities of child-rearing equally. However, when couples live apart, the child must have a permanent residence at one parent’s home, and the other parent must contribute financially through child support. Under Texas law, courts can resolve custody disputes in several ways, with joint conservatorship being the most common.
Parents can also settle out of court or through mediation. Finally, if negotiations fail, they can opt for an arbitration or court ruling. At The Aberdeen Law Firm, our team of experienced Dallas family law lawyers has a long history of helping our clients secure custody of their children after a divorce.
Texas law uses the term conservatorship instead of custody. A conservatorship is a legal concept that gives the conservator the right to make decisions about the child’s life, such as schooling, religion, and other pivotal choices in a child’s upbringing. A joint conservatorship gives parents equal power in making these critical decisions.
However, the courts deem one parent the primary conservator. The child resides with the primary conservator, and the other parent must pay child support. Disputes often center on who becomes the primary conservator. Courts make this decision based on their view of the child’s best interests.
Defining the Best Interests of the Child
Courts must follow a legal standard in determining the child’s best interests to decide whether to award shared custody and which parent shall be the primary conservator. Texas law instructs them to consider the following factors in making a decision about the child’s best interests:
- The child’s wishes
- The child’s emotional and physical needs at present and in the future
- Any emotional and physical danger that threatens the child now and in the future
- The ability of each parent to be a mother or father
- Support systems available to the parents and how they promote the best interests of the child
- The plans for the child
- The stability of the proposed permanent home
- Acts or omissions of the parent(s) that indicate the existing parent-child relationship is improper
Visitation With Joint Custody
The non-primary conservator has the right to visitation with the child. The court may issue a non-standard possession order when both parents agree on a visitation schedule. Many families prefer to create their own visitation schedules, making this an attractive outcome.
However, in some cases, the couple cannot agree on a schedule, or the primary conservator is obstructive toward visitation. In that case, the court can issue a standard possession order stipulating specific times the non-primary conservator takes possession of the child.
Sole Conservatorship With Visitation
Some parents wish to claim sole conservatorship, granting the other parent visitation but maintaining control of decisions about the child’s future, such as where they live, what school they attend, religious influences, and other factors.
In some cases, differences in opinion regarding how the child should be raised are at issue. In other situations, the parents may have different ideas about where the child should live, such as when one parent wishes to move to a new city with the child. In the end, if the parents cannot compromise, the court imposes its ruling based on its view of the child’s best interests.
For a free legal consultation with a child custody lawyer serving Dallas, call (855) 593-1497
Sole Conservatorship and Child Support
Child support works the same way whether the conservatorship is sole or joint. The parent who does not live with the child must make support payments.
Sole Conservatorship Without Visitation
Courts rarely terminate a parent’s right to visitation. The law considers parental involvement in a child’s life sacrosanct. Preventing a parent from seeing their child can do lifelong harm to a growing person. The law requires extreme circumstances to deny visitation or terminate parental rights.
For instance, a court may intervene if a parent has harmed the child, exposed them to criminal conduct, or endangered the child. Intervention does not necessarily mean termination of parental rights. The court may choose to restrict visitation, such as by requiring supervision or limiting visitation hours and locations.
Termination of parental rights only happens when the court rules it is the only option for protecting the child.
Alterations to Visitation Do Not Affect Child Support
Alternations of cancellations of visitation rights do not absolve the non-conservator parent from child support. The law holds that the non-custodial parent bears financial responsibility even when visitation rights are curtailed or terminated.
In addition, a parent who relocates and sees the child irregularly must continue paying support, as does a parent who declines to see their child.
Custody disputes often become heated. Most parents want to be with their children as much as possible and participate in fundamental decisions about their upbringing. The legal process of determining custody seeks to make the situation fair and work in the child’s best interest.
Dallas Child Custody Lawyer Near Me (855) 593-1497
Settling Child Custody Through Mediation
Child custody is the most important decision that must be made during a divorce where children are involved. Leaving this decision up to the court can result in a less-than-ideal ruling for you and your family. Additionally, the ordeal your children will likely be put through during this process can be an emotional and traumatic experience.
Every family is unique, and finding a solution that fits your situation is critical. If possible, coming to a mutually agreed upon decision on child custody with your ex is the best answer. Mediation can help you and your spouse come to terms on a custody agreement that truly meets the best interests of your children.
Our team of child custody lawyers serving Dallas can help advise you during the mediation process. We can help ensure that you get an outcome that works for both you and your children.
Call Us Today to Speak With a Texas Child Custody Lawyer in Dallas
Parental rights are some of the most important legal rights you will ever defend. Our experienced child custody lawyers at The Aberdeen Law Firm know how to fight to protect your right to parenting time, legal decisions making authority, and other important parental rights.
Give us a call, use our chat tool, or complete our contact form to schedule your consultation. Don’t delay. The sooner you have an attorney fighting on your side, the better protected your parental rights will be. This can prevent permanent damage to your parent-child relationship.