While divorce is the right choice for many parents, an ensuing child custody battle can take its toll on the parents as well as the child. ‘Winning’ a child custody case will depend on the parent’s goals. Some might want the child to live with him/her primarily, or may wish to prevent the other parent from gaining custody or visitation rights. Others may wish to modify an existing custody order.
There are some simple things parents can do to improve their chances of a successful outcome, whatever that might be, and help inoculate their child from the stress of the legal proceeding.
Child Custody Overview
Texas law refers to custody as conservatorship.
Conservators are responsible for:
- parenting decisions;
- medical decisions;
- legal needs; and
- extracurricular activities.
Parents will be managing or possessory conservators. The former retain the right to make decisions regarding the child, while the latter may have limited rights but can still see the child.
Joint managing conservatorship doesn’t necessarily mean that the child will spend equal amounts of time with both parents. One may still be the primary joint conservator. The court holds a hearing and evaluates many factors to decide what’s in the best interests of the child. These factors include any evidence of child abuse, the child’s testimony (if over the age of 12), stability of the home, the party’s plans for the child, and other factors.
How to Deal with a Child Custody Battle
One of the best things a parent can do to accomplish his or her goals in a custody battle is to demonstrate that their goals are in the child’s best interests, such as that it would be in the child’s best interests if one were the child’s primary joint conservator.
Establishing best interests might entail proving factors like:
- a stable home;
- good support environment;
- plans for the child’s future development; and
- ability to deal with the challenges of parenting.
Parents should also come prepared. This entails working with an attorney to collect any evidence of abuse or neglect (if applicable), as well as other evidence that demonstrates that a parent is best suited as the primary joint conservator. This might include evidence of continued employment and resources to provide for the child.
No matter the situation, the parents should always cooperate with the judge and take the legal proceedings seriously. It also gives them good will and credibility. Parents who are argumentative or unprofessional when communicating with the judge and courts may be looked upon poorly, and this might harm their case.
- badmouth the other parent;
- forbid the child from seeing the other parent or the parent’s family;
- disrespect that parent’s privacy; or
- deprive the child of access to their other parent in any way.
An exception exists if the other parent has harmed the child or places the child in a dangerous environment.
How Lawyers Help with Custody Disputes
A lawyer can help a parent evaluate the circumstances surrounding the case and the child’s life and develop a theory of why that parent should be the primary joint conservator or accomplish other custody-related goals. A lawyer can highlight the parent’s good qualities while helping explain some of the faults the other parent might bring up.
Warren & Migliaccio is committed to helping Dallas parents currently in or planning for a child custody battle. Contact our office at 888-584-9614 to schedule a free consultation regarding your child custody dispute.