When couples separate, they often fear they will not have enough meaningful time to spend with their children. Child custody disputes can feel overwhelming, and they are often one of the most contentious issues in a divorce.
Fortunately, help is available from a Tarrant County child custody lawyer. A dedicated family attorney could help parents create a custody arrangement and visitation schedule that meets their family’s needs. If you need help creating or modifying a parenting plan, schedule an appointment now.
Child Custody Laws in Tarrant County
Under Texas Family Code §153.003, courts should not give preference to either party in a child custody case based on their gender or marital status. This means that both parents start out with equal rights.
The state of Texas refers to child custody as conservatorship, and a parent may be named either the sole managing conservator or the joint managing conservator. Conservatorship gives a parent the right to make decisions about their child’s health, welfare, and education. In general, the court will assume that both parents should share these powers as joint managing conservators unless there is a good reason to exclude one party.
In addition to managing conservatorship, parents may also have possessory conservatorship, which grants the right to visitation. However, it does not allow a parent to make important decisions about the children’s lives.
Creating a Custody Agreement
Parents may decide on the type of conservatorship or custody agreement that they want to create. If they can agree on issues of custody, visitation, and child support, then they can submit that agreement to the judge for approval. If they cannot agree on the terms or if the agreement is not in compliance with Texas law, then a judge may decide on their behalf.
When considering whether the parents should share joint conservatorship or how much parenting time each party should have, judges weigh multiple factors. Some things the judge may consider include:
- The ability of the parties to get along and act in the child’s best interest,
- The relationship between each person and their children,
- Whether there is a history of neglect or abuse,
- The stability of each parent’s home life and financial situation
- The preference of children aged 12 or older
Parents who negotiate a custody agreement and parenting plan themselves are often more satisfied with the results than when a judge decides for them. For this reason, parents may retain a Tarrant County child custody attorney for help reaching an agreement using mediations and other negotiation techniques.
Modifying Visitation or Custody Agreements
When creating a visitation or custody agreement, parents have to plan for the future. The parenting plan may account for things like where the children will spend time after school, where they will spend birthdays and holidays, and what will happen over summer vacation and other breaks. The custody arrangement also determines who pays child support and who pays for other expenses, such as daycare or extracurricular activities.
While these agreements should be flexible, they cannot account for every change in circumstances. When a parenting plan or custody agreement no longer works for the parties, an attorney could file a motion to modify the arrangement.
Contact A Tarrant County Child Custody Attorney Now
If you are a parent who needs help protecting your time with your kids, consider speaking with a family lawyer about your options. Determining issues of child custody can be difficult, both legally and emotionally, and many people have better results with quality legal representation at their side.
For more information about child custody or to have your case evaluated, schedule an appointment with a Tarrant County child custody lawyer today.