Child Custody and Parenting Rights
When a divorcing couple has children, it adds another dimension to a divorce case. The parents must agree where the children will live, how much time the children will spend with each parent, and who will be responsible for making decisions about the children's lives. If the parents cannot agree on issues affecting their children, the court will make those decisions for them. Even if parents do agree on a parenting plan, the court must find that it is in the best interests of the children.
In Texas, having rights and responsibilities with respect to a child is called a conservatorship. The amount of time spent with a child is called possession. Both conservatorship and possession are often at issue in a divorce.
In Texas, there are two distinct types of conservatorship — Joint Managing and Sole Managing. Texas law assumes that the parents will be joint managing conservators with one parent having primary custody. In some circumstances, particularly where there is a history of family violence, one parent may be named a sole managing conservator.
Standard Possession Order
In an attempt to eliminate some of the bickering over custody and visitation time, the Texas legislature enacted a standard possession order, which outlines standard weekend, summer and holiday visitation (possession) for the non-custodial parent. The standard possession order is presumed appropriate for children over 3 years old.
Customized Custody and Visitation Schedules and Creative Parenting Plans
Unfortunately, a one-size-fits-all approach does not always work for such sensitive and personal issues as parenting time and parental decision making. A joint managing conservatorship with a standard possession order may not be appropriate or in the best interests of the children in many circumstances. A history of domestic violence, substance abuse or addiction, serious neglect of the children, mental illness and other factors may require a different custody and visitation arrangement. We work with many professionals to develop and present creative custody and visitation plans, including psychologists, psychiatrists, and custody evaluators.
Many of our clients elect to have a customized possession schedule (as opposed to a standard possession order) to better fit their children's needs and the parents' work schedules. Our firm is dedicated to working toward a possession schedule and parenting plan that meets your goals and is in the best interests of your children.
Parental Relocation and Motions to Change Child Custody
In situations where a custodial parent wants to move away with the child, the court will look at all relevant factors in deciding whether to allow the move, including: the reason for the move, the effect of the move on the child and on the child's relationship with the non-custodial parent. Children who are older than 12 can sign an affidavit expressing their preferences and state whether or not they want to move away. Our attorneys can guide you through the complicated process of requesting permission to relocate or opposing your ex-spouse's request to move away with the children.
We also represent clients in motions to change child custody following a divorce.
Grandparent Visitation Rights
In Texas, grandparents may be awarded visitation based on their prior involvement in the child's life. However, because of a recent Supreme Court decision, the court's power over a parent's refusal to allow grandparent visitation is limited. In most cases, parents are in actuality the ones who get to decide whether their child spends time with a grandparent.
At the Flowers Firm, we listen to our clients and give them the information they need to make informed decisions about child custody, visitation schedules and parenting plans. Further, our lawyers will plan a strategy designed to regain or keep custody if that is the client's desire.
Contact the Flowers Firm to assist with any child custody and visitation questions. Contact us
at (713) 236-7796 to schedule an appointment with one of our skilled attorneys at our office in downtown Houston.