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The Foray Firm

Fort Bend Child Custody LawyerThe conservatorship of children is often a contentious matter in a family law or divorce case. Parents and other parties typically have strong beliefs about what is best for the children, and they are willing to fight for their interests in court. Whether you are a parent, grandparent, or another interested party, it is important to be prepared before appearing at a child custody hearing in Texas.

Know Your Evidence and How to Use it

Prior to the hearing, it is important to gather evidence that supports your version of events. You should also be aware of any evidence that could hurt your case. This includes any past criminal activity, substance abuse issues, or other relevant information. Your lawyer can help you gather evidence to support your claims.

It is best to arrive at the hearing early and organized. Bring copies of all relevant documents that may be used as evidence, such as medical records, letters, emails, journals, reports, and any other material related to the hearing. 

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Fort Bend Child Conservatorship LawyerGetting divorced is complicated, regardless of family circumstances. However, divorcing parents often deal with a wider range of legal issues than couples without children. If you are thinking about divorce and you share children with your spouse, you may have questions about your rights and responsibilities as a parent, such as: How is child custody decided in Texas? Which parent does the child live with? Who is responsible for making decisions regarding the child's health, education, and welfare?

Basics of Child Custody in Texas

Texas law uses somewhat unique language to describe child custody matters in a divorce. The Texas Family Code describes "conservatorship" as the right to make decisions about a child's welfare and his or her upbringing. It also discusses the rights of "possession and access,” which refers to the amount of time a parent will spend with the child.

A sole managing conservator has sole authority to make major decisions about a child's welfare, such as healthcare and educational needs. A joint managing conservator typically has joint decision-making authority with the other parent. Where joint managing conservatorship is granted, one of the parents will have primary possession and access to the child and be considered the "primary conservator.” Usually, this is the parent with whom the child will primarily reside.

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Sugarland child visitation lawyer

During a divorce, some things inevitably change between parents and their children. The relationship itself is not always affected, but custody arrangements can strain some parent-child interactions. Custody schedules are created based on the child’s best interests. In many cases, both parents will have similar amounts of time with their child to try to preserve a sense of normalcy. For parents with more complicated relationships, supervised visits may be required of the non-custodial parent. 

When Is Supervised Visitation Appropriate?

In Texas, supervised visitation is required in situations where a parent poses a threat to the child. Any form of physical, sexual, or emotional abuse from that parent warrants supervised visits. This can include abuse the parent inflicted on the child or on the other parent. Parents with substance abuse problems or uncontrollable mental illnesses can also endanger the child. Those parents who have neglected their child or who have been absent from the child's life may also be required to have supervised visitation.

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Houston child custody attorneyChild custody agreements rarely please everyone involved. Divorce requires making lots of compromises, especially in terms of parenting time. While this can be frustrating, an unsatisfactory agreement is not grounds for changing the child custody and parenting plan. However, there are some situations that warrant an adjustment. The purpose of these agreements is to put the child’s best interests above the parents’ opinions, and if the parenting plan no longer reflects that, modifications can be requested.

Reasons to Request Changes

Consistent schedules and routines are beneficial for a child’s sense of stability, which is why courts are hesitant to make adjustments to child custody. The following are instances that can cause the court to consider modifying a divorce order that has been put in place:

  1. Your child may be in danger: It is not uncommon for couples to get divorced due to physical, mental, or emotional abuse or because of their former spouse’s addiction to alcohol or drugs. While many parents try to keep their bad habits away from their children, some fail to do so. The court will evaluate the level of danger that the child may be exposed to by looking at past proof of the parent’s reckless behavior and speaking with the child about his or her home life. A child’s facial features or lack of words can be just as telling as a full testimony, and if the court determines that the child's safety is at risk, the custody arrangements may be changed as necessary.

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