If dealing with child custody laws in Texas, you’re embarking on an area of family law that many parents find quite stressful and challenging. While the case may not be a simple matter, there are ways to make things go more smoothly for you and your child. Understanding the basics of family law and navigating these laws with a Dallas child custody attorney can help you go into your case informed and confident of your rights and responsibilities.
Filing for Custody under Child Custody Laws
In Texas, parents can file for custody if the child resides in the state or has lived there up to six months prior to the filing, and a parent still lives in the state. A suit also may be filed in Texas if the child’s home state has determined Texas to be the more appropriate venue, and the child or parents have a significant connection to the state and there is enough evidence in the state regarding the child’s care, education, etc.
The process of filing for custody involves filling out the appropriate paperwork. This documentation contains personal details about the child; for example, the address where the child has resided for the past five years as well as the names of the other parent and any other legal guardians.
When child custody is part of a divorce case, the parents’ wishes sometimes are decided upon in mediation, put in writing and added to the divorce decree itself when the divorce is finalized. Regardless of the type of child custody case you face, it’s essential to have your documentation in order and submitted on time to the correct people. A Dallas child custody attorney can assist parents as they deal with these administrative issues.
Deciding Custody and Parenting Plans
Custody decisions in Texas are based on “the best interests of the child” and are decided based on a multitude of factors, including:
- the mental and physical health of parents and children;
- the stability of the respective parents’ home environments;
- parental cooperativeness;
- each party’s plans and intent for the child;
- any special educational or health needs the child may have; and
- the parents’ respective work schedules and other important factors.
Child custody in Texas is broken into two categories: conservatorship and possession and access. In some states, these categories are also known as legal custody and physical custody. Conservatorship refers to the legal rights of parents to make major decisions in the child’s life — those involving education, medical care, and other important issues. Conservatorship may be granted to one parent only or to both parents equally.
Possession and access refers to the parents’ physical access to the child; it determines which parent the child will live with and when and how visitation will work. Child custody laws in Texas include two possession and access schedules that provide custody and visitation guidelines: standard schedule and extended standard schedule (allows more overnight visits each month). In many cases, parents – with help from their Dallas child custody attorneys – may choose to work out their own schedules among themselves rather than having the court choose one.
Modifying a Child Custody Order in Texas
In order to modify a child custody order, you will need to show that the circumstances warrant a change. You and your Dallas child custody attorney must demonstrate that material changes have occurred in the child’s living situation, and the child would be better off with a different arrangement. This may include changes affecting either spouse, such as a change in housing situation or environment.
Getting Legal Help from a Dallas Child Custody Attorney
Parents can seek help with these matters from a Dallas child custody attorney who can review the circumstances of a particular family law case and guide parents through the legal process. A lawyer also can help build a parent’s case through appropriate evidence and argument under child custody laws in Texas.