Child Custody Attorneys in Houston, TX

Child custody is one of the most emotionally charged issues that emerge in a Texas family law case. Unfortunately, disagreements between parents often affect their children the most, creating turbulence and turmoil in their lives. This can happen even when the parents are trying their best to protect and insulate the children from the conflict. We understand that it is the children’s best interest to try and bring disputes to a quick, successful resolution. The Houston child custody lawyers at The Larson Law Office are committed to helping you reach a resolution that best suits you and your family. We will thoroughly investigate the facts of your case to construct carefully organized arguments and work aggressively to protect your rights as a parent.

To discuss your child custody case, call us today at 713-221-9088 or fill out our contact form on the right to schedule your free case review.

Texas Child Custody Laws: Determining Who Gets Primary Custody

During a child custody hearing or trial to determine custody and conservatorship issues, many factors are considered by the Court. Some of these factors include in determining a parenting plan include: which parent is the primary caregiver, the status quo of child care arrangements, the history of visitation, substance abuse, mental health issues, any history of domestic violence or other criminal history, the work schedules of the parents, the general employment situation of each parent, how the children are performing in school and other developmental issues, the current living arrangements of each parent and the behavioral history of each parent. In all cases, conservatorship and visitation issues are determined by what is in the best interest of the child by applying these and other factors.

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Types of Child Custody in Texas

An important step to developing a parenting plan is setting up a custody arrangement both parents will follow. Below are the two options for conservatorship in Texas:

  • Sole Custody

    When a parent is appointed sole managing conservatorship, that parent is responsible for making important decisions concerning the child. Sole managing conservatorship comes into play only when one parent’s behavior threatens the child’s well-being in some form. This can be from drug or alcohol issues, neglect, abuse or other reasons. However, the parent seeking to be made sole managing conservator must specifically plead it in the petition, which must also be accompanied by an affidavit detailing the allegations to support a finding of sole managing conservatorship.

    If the Court determines that sole managing conservatorship is appropriate the parent with sole managing is typically given the exclusive rights to make decisions regarding the child, and the other parent may have restricted or supervised visitation rights.

  • Joint Custody

    Joint managing conservatorship is a very general term that means that both parents share rights, duties, and physical possession of the child.. Any parenting plan that is not sole managing conservatorship will likely fall under the umbrella of joint managing conservatorship. Joint managing can take many forms for physical possession, including 50/50, 3/2/2, week-on/week off, standard possession order or expanded possession order, among many other options.

    Joint managing can take many forms for rights and duties, including exclusive, by agreement and several forms of tie-breaker structures. In the case of joint custody, the parent with whom the child lives during the week is referred to as the primary conservator and the other parent has visitation and must pay child support.

If you believe a certain custody arrangement is the best choice for your family, our Houston child custody attorneys will help present your case and establish visitation agreements between you and the other parent. Contact our law firm today to learn more.

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.

Resolving Child Custody Disputes Through Mediation

In many situations, the most effective way to establish an early and workable final parenting plan for the children is by a mutual agreement between the parents. However, many times this is easier said than done. Sometimes the parents can work out the outlines of an agreement between themselves for a lawyer to finalize in an agreed child custody order, but this is often a difficult undertaking with often many layers of underlying conflict between the parents. If such an agreement cannot be made between the parties, our family law attorneys can help mediate child custody issues between you and the other parent in order to obtain a successful settlement. We utilize mediation frequently in child custody cases, and we believe mediation is often a very successful tool to help parents resolve their disputes early and with less expense than through litigation, and minimize future conflict.

Taking Child Custody Disputes to Court

Our Lawyers Have the Courtroom Experience to Pursue and Fight for Your Rights 

Houston family law attorneys

At our Houston divorce law firm, although we encourage solving disputes through mediation, we are always ready to pursue aggressive litigation in order to achieve the successful outcome for you and your children. We are dedicated to protecting our clients’ interests and will guide you through complex family law matters including issues of custody, visitation, support, and more.

We can also help you with the modification of custody orders to address material and substantial changes of circumstances that have occurred since the entry of your last order. Orders can be modified regarding increasing or decreasing child support, medical support, geographic restrictions, times and amount of visitation, and many other issues. For compassionate representation to help you navigate the complex issues of child custody laws in Texas, contact The Larson Law Office today.

Facing a Child Custody Situation in Houston, TX?

Every parent wants what’s best for their child. If you are involved in a child custody dispute, you should have aggressive, dedicated, and highly experienced legal representation in family court. Contact Houston’s child custody lawyers at The Larson Law Office today at (713) 221-9088 or fill out our contact form to schedule your complimentary consultation.