Child Custody

Tyler Texas Child Custody Attorney

   Often times the most long and drawn out cases in family law matters, are child custody cases. The most emotionally involved of all the civil and legal issues are child custody issues. I am a skilled and knowledgeable Child Custody Attorney. I understand the complex court system and know the affect that these cases can have on all parties involved.  Custody disputes may arise because a parent has legitimate concerns regarding the other parent’s ability to adequately care of the child and make decisions that are in the best interest of the child.  However, in some instances custody disputes arise because one parent is angry regarding the divorce or separation and that parent may dispute custody as a form of punishment towards the other parent.  Additionally, in custody cases there may be issues with drug or alcohol abuse on the part of a parent, which may make it necessary to dispute custody to protect the child.

    It is important in any child custody case to choose a child custody attorney who understands your goals and expected outcome of the case. One of the most effective tools in resolving a custody issue is having good communication with your child custody attorney. It is important to understand all of your options to make an informed decision.  Once a final child custody order is entered it will remain in place until the child becomes an adult or is otherwise emancipated or until you go back to court in an attempt to modify the order.  It is critical that you understand the order and will be able to live with the day to day requirements of the order.

Child Custody, Visitation and Relocation in Tyler, Texas Smith County

 Tyler Texas Child Custody Attorney In most cases Texas Courts operate on the idea that frequent contact with both parents is usually in the best interest of the children. A joint custody arrangement often achieves this. To ensure your child custody order is what you want it is best to consult with a knowledgeable child custody attorney. For more than a decade I have been assisting Texans with their legal needs. I practice regularly in Smith County and surrounding counties.

Joint and sole child custody in Tyler, Texas Smith County

Legal custody gives a parent the right to make the important decisions about the child’s education, health, medical care, and welfare. Legal custody allows you to make decisions that will also affect your child’s future. That’s where a qualified child custody attorney plays a major role. It is important that you be as involved in the day to day decisions regarding your child so you can continue to play an active role in his or her life even after divorce or separation from the other parent. The better the ability of the parents to communicate and reach cooperative decisions, the greater their chance for success as joint custodians, or what Texas calls joint managing conservators.

In Texas, there are generally two types of cases that involve original custody determinations: (1) a divorce involving a child or (2) a suit affecting the parent child relationship, which is between two parents who are not married to one another.  Texas allows two types of conservatorship: (1) joint managing conservators or (2) sole managing conservator and possessory conservator.  It is very important that you have legal representation concerning decisions of conservatorship.  Once the court enters an order regarding conservatorship, that order will remain in place unless and until you have grounds to modify the order and can convince the court to modify the order.

JOINT MANAGING CONSERVATORSHIP

The public policy in Texas as it relates to conservatorship of children is stated in Texas Family Code section 153.001.  That police is to ensure that a child has frequent and continuing contact with a parent who has shown the ability to act in the child’s best interest; provide a safe, stable and non-violent environment for the child; and encourage parents to share the rights and duties of raising a child after separation or divorce.  (Tex. Family Code Section 153.001).  The best interest of the child is always to be the most important consideration for the court in making child custody decisions.

There is a presumption in Texas that the parents should be appointed joint managing conservators of the child.  This presumption may be overcome by proving the appointment of the parents as joint managing conservators would significantly impair the child’s physical health or emotional development.  (Texas Family Code Section 153.131).  Credible evidence of a history of domestic violence in the 2 years prior to filing the case will remove the presumption.

Joint Managing Conservators of a child have all of the following rights at all times, unless specifically limited by the court order:

(1) to receive information from any other conservator of the child concerning the health, education, and welfare of the child;
(2) to confer with the other parent to the extent possible before making a decision concerning the health, education, and welfare of the child;
(3) of access to medical, dental, psychological, and educational records of the child;
(4) to consult with a physician, dentist, or psychologist of the child;
(5) to consult with school officials concerning the child’s welfare and educational status, including school activities;
(6) to attend school activities;
(7) to be designated on the child’s records as a person to be notified in case of an emergency;
(8) to consent to medical, dental, and surgical treatment during an emergency involving an immediate danger to the health and safety of the child; and
(9) to manage the estate of the child to the extent the estate has been created by the parent or the parent’s family. (Tex. Family Code Section 153.073(a))

Joint Managing Conservators of the child have all of the following duties during the conservators period of possession of the child:

(1) the duty of care, control, protection, and reasonable discipline of the child;
(2) the duty to support the child, including providing the child with clothing, food, shelter, and medical and dental care not involving an invasive procedure;
(3) the right to consent for the child to medical and dental care not involving an invasive procedure; and
(4) the right to direct the moral and religious training of the child. (Texas Family Code Section 153.074)

Additionally, Joint Managing Conservators generally have the following independent rights and duties:
(1) the right to consent to medical, dental, and surgical treatment involving invasive procedures;
(2) the right to consent to psychiatric and psychological treatment;
(3) the right to represent the child in legal action and to make other decisions of substantial legal significance concerning the child;
(4) the right to consent to marriage and to enlistment in the armed forces of the United States;
(5) the right to make decisions concerning the child’s education;
(6) the right to the services and earnings of the child; and
(7) except when a guardian of the child’s estate or a guardian or attorney ad litem has been appointed for the child, the right to act as an agent of the child in relation to the child’s estate if the child’s action is required by a state, the United States, or a foreign government.

The rights listed above can be made exclusive, joint or independent as agreed by the parties or ordered by the Court.  In cases where the parties are exercising a standard possession order, the Court will designate one party as the primary conservator, which typically means that party has the exclusive right to designate residency of the child and the exclusive right to receive and disperse child support.  As you can see other than those exclusive rights, Joint Managing Conservators generally have equal rights and duties as it relates to the children.

Sole Managing Conservator/Possessory Conservator

While it is usually presumed that the parents should be appointed Joint Managing Conservators, there are some instances when it is not appropriate.  For example, if a parent has neglected a child, has a drug or alcohol addiction, or has committed family violence against the child or other parent, then it would not be appropriate to appoint the parents Joint Managing Conservators.  In these instances the Court would likely appoint the parent who has neglected the child, has the drug or alcohol addition, or committed family violence as a possessory conservator and the other parent would be appointed sole managing conservator.

A sole managing conservator and possessory conservator has the following rights at all times, unless limited by the Court:

(1) to receive information from any other conservator of the child concerning the health, education, and welfare of the child;
(2) to confer with the other parent to the extent possible before making a decision concerning the health, education, and welfare of the child;
(3) of access to medical, dental, psychological, and educational records of the child;
(4) to consult with a physician, dentist, or psychologist of the child;
(5) to consult with school officials concerning the child’s welfare and educational status, including school activities;
(6) to attend school activities;
(7) to be designated on the child’s records as a person to be notified in case of an emergency;
(8) to consent to medical, dental, and surgical treatment during an emergency involving an immediate danger to the health and safety of the child; and
(9) to manage the estate of the child to the extent the estate has been created by the parent or the parent’s family. (Tex. Family Code Section 153.073(a))

A Sole Managing Conservator and Possessory Conservator of the child has all of the following duties during the conservators period of possession of the child, unless limited by the Court:

(1) the duty of care, control, protection, and reasonable discipline of the child;
(2) the duty to support the child, including providing the child with clothing, food, shelter, and medical and dental care not involving an invasive procedure;
(3) the right to consent for the child to medical and dental care not involving an invasive procedure; and
(4) the right to direct the moral and religious training of the child. (Texas Family Code Section 153.074)

A Sole Managing Conservator has the following exclusive rights and duties:

(1) the right to designate the primary residence of the child;
(2) the right to consent to medical, dental, and surgical treatment involving invasive procedures;
(3) the right to consent to psychiatric and psychological treatment;
(4) the right to receive and give receipt for periodic payments for the support of the child and to hold or disburse these funds for the benefit of the child;
(5) the right to represent the child in legal action and to make other decisions of substantial legal significance concerning the child;
(6) the right to consent to marriage and to enlistment in the armed forces of the United States;
(7) the right to make decisions concerning the child’s education;
(8) the right to the services and earnings of the child; and
(9) except when a guardian of the child’s estate or a guardian or attorney ad litem has been appointed for the child, the right to act as an agent of the child in relation to the child’s estate if the child’s action is required by a state, the United States, or a foreign government. (Texas Family Code Section 153.132)

In determining whether the parents should be appointed Joint Managing Conservators or Sole Managing and Possessory Conservators the Court shall consider factors in determining what is in the best interest of the child.  The parties may also reach agreements regarding conservatorship and specific rights and duties.  Understanding the differences between conservatorship, the rights and duties and what is best for your child can be quite overwhelming.  Contact me today for a consultation regarding your specific child custody case.

Possession and Access

It is quite common in today’s world to have both parents working outside the home and also equally sharing the child rearing responsibilities.  When involved in a divorce or child custody case it becomes very difficult to find a workable agreement regarding possession of the child.  Oftentimes, both parents generally care for the child and do not want to miss out on any part of the child’s life.  However, ultimately in a divorce or separation case the parties will either need to agree to a possession schedule or the Court will order a possession schedule based on the evidence presented and application of the law.

I am seeing more and more parents agreeing to equal possession schedules.  This can often work well if the parents can effectively communicate, live close to one another and both take their role as being equally involved as an important role.  Workable possession schedules are important in every case, first for the child, but also for the parents as well.  If the parties are unable to reach an agreement regarding possession then the Court will order a possession schedule based upon the best interest of the child and also with the mindset of frequent contact being best for the child, unless there are specific facts that prove it is not in the best interest of the child to have frequent contact.

In certain cases where there is abuse, neglect, drug or alcohols issues the Court may order a parent to have more limited possession, which is supervised at all times.  The Court also has more control over tailoring a possession schedule when a child is below the age of 3 years.  There are so many factors involved in determine possession of a child that it can become quite overwhelming in an already stressful time in your life.  Call me today to set up a consultation regarding your divorce or child custody case.  It is important to know your rights and options in moving forward with your case.

If you need the assistance of a Tyler Family Law Attorney Please contact us to schedule a consultation.