Looking Out for Your Child’s Best Interests
Let’s face it. More than the heartbreak of ending a relationship is the strain of looking out for the welfare of the children involved in their parent’s separation, divorce, or annulment. Even unmarried couples with children, who in more ways than one start being at odds with each other, can also suffer from the often painful process of deciding child custody, child support, visitation rights, etc.
It is deep-rooted in parents to provide for their children. If you are embroiled in an ongoing legal separation, divorce, or annulment and you want to ensure the welfare of your child or if you are in disagreements with the mother or father of your child who you never married, seek legal help from competent Angleton child custody lawyers.
In looking out for the best interests of your children, you need a staunch legal partner who strikes the right balance between compassion and understanding and the drive to fight for the best custody arrangement. Scott M. Brown & Associates serves the Houston area in various practice areas such as family law. Contact them today for a consultation.
Meantime, learn more about getting child custody or retaining child custody, and gaining visitation rights. Having some basic legal knowledge will boost your chances of spending more time and gaining decision-making rights for your child.
Under the law, married parents have implicit rights over making decisions for their biological children. These decisions cover anything and everything, from where they live, what they eat, where to go for school, and even in their participation in religious activities.
In fact, even for unmarried parents, there is no need to involve family courts should they agree on the arrangements for their child.
Legal intervention is only necessary when married parents decide to legally separate, divorce, or annul their marriage and when unmarried parents disagree on child upbringing matters.
What is child custody?
Child custody involves the care, control, and maintenance of a child including the ability to make decisions on raising the child.
Following a legal separation, divorce, or annulment of marriage, the family court can award child custody to either parent or both parents, depending on the circumstances. Child custody may also be granted to a parent who wants to regain child custody or a parent who never had access to his/her child previously.
What are the types of child custody?
All over the United States, there are two types of child custody, legal custody, and physical custody. Let’s distinguish the two.
A parent awarded with legal custody over his/her child means that they have the right to make a judgment on all matters involving the child’s upbringing – from religion to education, residence to and well-being, etc.
Can legal custody be shared by both parents?
The law allows both parents to share the responsibility in making important decisions for their child in what is referred to as joint legal custody. The family court granting joint legal custody is a frequent occurrence. However, there are instances wherein the court will grant sole legal custody to either parent when both parents are unable to make decisions together in all aspects of the child’s upbringing or if the other parent is considered unfit to care for their child. Considerations in play include a history of domestic violence, drug and alcohol abuse, abandonment, or neglect.
If a parent is awarded sole legal custody, the other parent’s decisions or desires are of no legal bearing. The parent with sole legal custody can immediately execute decisions regarding the child without consultation or consideration to the other parent.
The second type of child custody is physical custody. After the legal separation, divorce, or annulment of the marriage of the child’s parents, the court will issue an order as to where the child will primarily live. The parent who the child will live with is called the custodial or residential parent, while the other parent is called the noncustodial or nonresidential parent. Visitation rights of the noncustodial parents are also usually outlined in the court order.
When determining which parent gets physical custody, the main consideration factored in by the court is the child’s best interests. The family court will favor stability and the mental, physical and financial capacity of the parent.
Usually, parents with a history of domestic violence will not be awarded physical custody. Alternatively, they may be awarded supervised visits or supervised parenting time.
Can physical custody be shared by both parents?
Parents have joint physical custody if they are awarded equal or close to equal periods of time when the child stays with them. In a sole physical custody, on the other hand, either parent will be granted by the court the right to have the child live with him/her primarily while the other parent will need the prior authorization from the family court for visitation rights.
Can Parents Decide Custody Outside of Court?
Usually, child custody is part and parcel of a legal separation, divorce, or annulment of marriage proceedings. When couples decide to part ways, child custody is part of the court order from the family court. Should both parties both agree to modify the arrangement over the course of time without issues and problems, then this could be done outside of court. However, it is highly recommended to submit custody modification to the courts and get a court order. This way, the court will have the power to penalize a parent who fails to follow the arrangement and shift the favor towards the other parent.
The family court would give preference to a custody and visitation arrangement that was agreed by the parents for as long as the best interests of the child are considered.
How is child custody and visitation determined if parents disagree?
Family Court Services Custody Mediation
Should parents disagree on custody and visitation arrangements, the courts will send both parents to a court-related program or a Family Court Services custody mediation. Here, a mediator will assist the parents in coming up with an agreement. However, if parents still disagree, the family court will now make the decision on child custody and visitation arrangement based on the provisions of the law and the custody evaluation.
Custody evaluation – A child custody evaluator assigned by the court will make a parenting plan based on the personal and work circumstances of both parents and their capability and capacity to raise the child.
Can A Parent Appeal or Request To Change A Court Approved Custody and Visitation Arrangement?
A parent can appeal and make their request via submission of forms to request a review by the family court. If you wish to challenge the court order, you must have competent Texas family law attorneys who can guide and represent you in court for the best possible outcome.
It is common for parents to request custody modification especially when there are significant changes in their life that would justify the change of custody arrangements. Common reasons for custody modifications are an increase in the standard of living, growing expenses of the child for his needs, relocation of a parent, etc.
Again, the courts will most likely approve a custody modification agreed upon by both parents. If no agreement has been reached and the request is made by only one parent, the family court will decide based on the child’s best interests and consider stability.
If you are battling a former partner with a child custody modification, your best defense is having the right attorney by your side. Choose lawyers who are practitioners of family law as they will have the experience and knowledge of related laws and court rules.
Can a parent have both custodies awarded or must a parent choose one type of custody over the other?
Legal custody and physical custody may be shared by both parents. It is also possible for both parents to gain joint legal custody with one parent having sole physical custody.
In extreme cases, a parent may lose both legal and physical custody of his/her child. Government officials may intervene if they think that a parent is not fit physically and mentally to make decisions for their child. The parent without physical custody can enjoy visitation rights instead.
Visitation rights refer to the time each noncustodial parent will spend with their children to guarantee that the child is still able to have quality time with him/her.
The court-approved visitation schedule will outline the schedule such as overnight stays, school vacations, and summer visitations. It will include locations and schedules of child drop-off and pick-up and even which parent will transport the child to the location.
Noncustodial parents with a history of domestic and child abuse will either have supervised visitation or not be awarded any visitation rights at all. A restraining order may be issued to a parent without visitation rights.
Supervised Parenting Time
When supervised parenting time is allowed, they take place in locations that are approved by the court and entail a visitation supervisor designated by the court.
Resolving Custody Battles Swiftly
Especially when parents do not agree with how to move forward, custody cases can be long and tumultuous. When such cases go on and on, so does the tension it can bring to the people involved, especially the child. Think of your child’s welfare and seek to resolve custody battles as swiftly as possible by getting not just competent lawyers but the right kind of attorney.
Scott M. Brown & Associates can bring years of experience to assist you in your case. Our law firm has a board-certified family law specialist on staff and a track record of child custody cases with successful results.
Contact our offices in Angleton at 979-652-5246, Pearland at 832-537-9547, and League City at (281) 346-9373 to book your consultation. Protect your child at all costs and contact your child custody lawyer today.