Helping You With Your Child Custody Issues

Showalter Law Firm, in Richmond, Texas, has many years of experience helping parents resolve complex disputes about child custody. This is perhaps the most emotional area of divorce and family law. In Texas, custody is legally referred to as conservatorship. Visitation is legally referred to as access.

Texas describes the types of custody / conservatorship of the child as:

  • Joint managing conservatorship
  • Sole managing conservatorship

The noncustodial parent will generally receive a standard possession order, giving them the right to visitation and parenting time with their child. (See below for more information about this important part of custody law.)

If you have any current or potential child custody dispute with the other parent of your child, schedule a consultation with one of our lawyers right away. Call us at 888-627-4042. We can help you with everything, including temporary orders of protection if you are worried about your child's or your own safety.

Joint Managing Conservatorship

The appointment of both parents as "joint managing conservators" in Texas is presumed to be in the best interest of the child. The presumption is rebuttable in certain circumstances. To rebut that presumption the parent seeking a sole managing conservatorship must present evidence that appointing both parents as joint managing conservators is not in the child's best interest. Factors considered in that argument are: instances of family violence, child neglect, physical abuse of the child, or sexual abuse of the child.

Each case must be examined on its own merits. The analysis of determining if there is sufficient grounds to present a plausible argument against joint managing conservatorship is extremely complex and the development of appropriate evidence is significant.

The joint managing conservatorship in Texas provides, in general that the child will reside primarily with one parent which may be subject to geographic restrictions. The order providing for conservatorship is allocated between the parents. This includes the rights and duties of the parents related to the child's upbringing, educational decisions, medical decisions, rights to bring legal actions on behalf of the child, right to maintain possession of the child's passport and a multitude of other areas. The order also assures that the parents have access to the information relating to the child such as school, medical issues and the like.

Sole Managing Conservatorship And Visitation Rights For The Nonconservator

Care must be taken to draft this portion of the final decree to provide for the best interest of the children relating to visitation and access, including any unique issues of the parents' lifestyle. The standard possession order is presumed in Texas law to be in the best interest of the child. In many cases, the standard possession order is appropriate and is implemented.

The Texas standard possession order generally provides that the noncustodial parent has:

  • A right of possession of the child on each Thursday night. If the overnight possession is utilized the child would be with nonprimary residence parent from the time school is out on Thursday night until school commences on Friday or in the case of weekend possession with the parent from school out on Thursday until school starts on Monday.
  • A set aside period by default during the summer of extended possession unless otherwise designated by the parent.
  • A right of possession of the child on the 1st, 3rd and 5th weekends of each month.
  • Shared holidays, generally a parent will have possession of the child alternating for Thanksgiving each year, one parent having the "odd" years the other having the "even."
  • Shared holidays such as Christmas, where children traditionally have extended periods of time off from school, one parent having the period from school out until Christmas Eve, or Christmas day and the other having from that exchange point until the child returns to school following New Years. Generally, the order provides that those extended holiday provisions "switch" each year, so that one parent would have the first portion one year and the latter portion the next.
  • Possession of the child on birthdays for a limited period of time even if that day is not a "regular period of possession."
  • Possession of the child for the father on Father's Day and for the mother on Mother's Day.
  • A plan for the sharing of Spring Break between the parents, usually one parent having the child one year and then the other the next.

Unfortunately in other cases, divorcing parents are faced with rotating shift schedules, weekend work schedules, night shifts, the provisions of possession and access are crafted to fit their unique lifestyle issues. Showalter Law Firm has the requisite skill to develop possession and access schedules that are understandable to the parties and serve the best interest of the child.

If the child is under three, dealing with special needs or has not started school there are provisions that can be crafted to address these unique issues.

Additionally, if the parents live some distance apart, the standard possession order provides for travel and travel-related expenses.

The negotiation of these often complex issues requires skill. If the orders are not crafted with sufficient details the parties are left with an unclear order and further disputes. There the system has failed the parents and the child. Showalter Law Firm stands ready to assist you in this process to clearly identify your unique needs, the needs of the child, and to work to develop the best possible order to prevent further and future litigation interpreting one or more provisions.

Modifications

Of course, the courts understand that things change in people's lives. Parents change jobs or enter into new relationships. As children get older, they may want to change the days or amount of time they are with their noncustodial parent. If you need to modify your court order, don't take it upon yourself to work out an informal arrangement. The courts will not recognize it in the event problems arise. Showalter Law Firm can help you work out a new arrangement and submit it to the courts for approval.

Contact Us

From our offices in Richmond, our attorneys represent clients in family law matters throughout the Greater Houston metropolitan area. Call us at 888-627-4042 or send an email to arrange a consultation.