When a Custody Trial Is Necessary
In some situations, it’s just not possible for separating parents to come to an agreement on where their children should live. If parents cannot reach a consensus regarding primary custody or managing conservatorship, it may be necessary for a family court judge or jury to decide.
Having a skilled child custody lawyer in Houston, TX, represent you is crucial. If you can’t come to an agreement, the court will determine what’s in the best interests of your children. If left to a family court judge to decide, the result may not be what either you or your ex hoped for. As experienced negotiators, we will work with your ex’s attorney to reach an amicable agreement that serves your interests.
In some family law cases, you may need to go through continued negotiations and make a good-faith effort at resolution during court-ordered mediation. If you still cannot reach an agreement in mediation, then your case may need to be resolved through a trial.
Filing for Child Custody in Texas
Before filing for child custody, you must be able to show your child’s home state is Texas. Your child must have lived in Texas with a “parent or a person acting as a parent” for a minimum of six consecutive months before filing.
Once you can establish residency, then you will file your paperwork. The filing process might differ depending on your circumstances.
If you were never married to the other parent, you may need to resolve questions of paternity before settling child custody. When you are meeting with Houston child custody attorneys, they will help you understand what needs to be addressed before you can proceed with a custody filing.
How a Judge Decides Custody Disputes
Even in cases where the parents reach an agreement, the judge needs to sign off on it before it becomes enforceable. While most agreements are approved, the family court judge still has the final say. That is one reason why you want your child custody lawyers in Houston best efforts and judgment used in representing your interests.
If the judge or jury needs to ultimately decide on custody arrangements, they will always look at what’s in the best interests of your children. There are numerous factors a Texas family law court judge considers before rendering a decision.
Best Interests of the Child
Defining what is in the best interests of your child might sound vague. But as your attorney will tell you, the court has a pretty comprehensive set of guidelines they follow. Understandably, every parent is likely to say that their child is better off with them. This is why the courts need to dig deeper to find out what type of custody arrangement is genuinely best for your children.
Some common factors used in determining a Texas custody case include:
- Your child’s age;
- Their emotional and physical needs;
- How stable each parent’s home is;
- Any prior out-of-home placements;
- The risk for emotional or physical danger, both now and in the future;
- How well each person can parent the children;
- Access to a reasonable support system;
- Family history, including domestic violence, neglect, substance abuse, or criminal history; and
- Results from various evaluations of the children, family members, and anyone else who has regular access to the home.
The court may also take into account the child’s wishes if they are over 12. But the court is not bound by the child’s preference.
Depending on the circumstances in your case, the judge may emphasize different factors. This is because every custody case is different. A proficient lawyer will be able to tell you which factors you should be most concerned with for your particular case. That is why it’s so imperative to choose the right child custody attorney in Houston, TX.
Which Parent Is More Likely to Be Awarded Sole Custody?
Like many other jurisdictions, Texas law says that the court cannot favor one parental role over the other. There should be no bias against the mother or the father when you walk into the courtroom. What can influence a judge to award sole custody is one parent’s behavior and history. If your ex has a history of domestic violence or presents a possible danger to your children, then your Houston child custody lawyers will aggressively fight for sole custody or sole managing conservatorship.
Forming a Parenting Plan and Establishing Visitation Orders
Ideally, the parenting plan will be one of joint legal custody, providing the children with as much time possible with both parents. However, there are instances were a parent may only have the children for less than half of the time, needing the establishment of visitation orders. Visitation may vary depending on the best interests of the children, financial and social situations of the parent, and other factors.
If there are parenting issues involving drug or alcohol abuse, domestic violence, neglect, and other factors that may pose a threat to the children, a parent can petition to have the visitation orders modified. This can lead to a limitation on access, visitation, and may even award sole custody to one parent or guardian.
The first step to creating a parenting plan should be to speak with qualified Houston visitation attorneys who will protect you and your child’s best interests. The Larson Law Office is highly experienced in all aspects of Texas divorce and family law. We will achieve the best possible outcome for you and your child through negotiation or litigation.
Enforcing Child Visitation Orders
Perhaps you are dealing with a vindictive or difficult former spouse or partner who regularly violates existing court orders for visitation or is prohibiting you from spending time with your children. If you need to enforce or modify visitation orders, our attorneys will work tirelessly to help you acquire the outcome you deserve. Remedies for bringing legal pressure include:
- Holding the other parent in contempt
- Jailing the other parent for failure to comply with the court’s orders
- Assessment of attorneys’ fees and costs against the other parent.
- Awarding you additional visitation time
How Do I Request Supervised Visitation for My Child?
There are cases in which it is not in the child’s best interests to spend time with a parent. You can petition the court to establish supervised visitations if the other parent is experiencing serious issues that can cause harm to your children. This includes:
- Drug use/addiction
- Anger management issues
- Domestic violence
- Neglect of the child
- Other problems that could be dangerous to the children