A Dedicated Advocate During Your Child Custody Case
As a parent, your children are likely the most important people in your life. If you are facing a custody dispute, whether through divorce or some other separation, you need a legal advocate to fight for your rights as a parent.
Board-Certified Family Law attorney Caroline McClimon has over a decade of experience and has handled over 100 contested divorce and custody cases. She leads our skilled legal team at McClimon Family Law in Smithville, where we serve families in surrounding counties and throughout Central Texas.
How Does Texas Approach Custody?
Texas law actually refers to child custody as conservatorship. There are two types of conservatorship, or custody: managing and possession. Managing refers to your ability to make important decisions about your child’s upbringing. Possession refers to the time your child spends living with you. In addition, you can have sole conservatorship over your child or joint conservatorship. In most cases, the courts favor joint conservatorship.
If you share custody with the other parent, you will need a parenting plan. This plan defines the amount of time each parent spends with the child, as well as other details about co-parenting. If you and your co-parent can come to an agreement, that usually works best for everyone, including your child. If you cannot, the court will include it as part of the custody order.
What Is In The Child’s Best Interest?
Although there used to be a time when courts would favor mothers over fathers in custody cases, those days are gone. The law recognizes that children need a meaningful relationship with both parents, barring any serious reasons to limit contact, such as abuse or substance addiction problems. The possession split is rarely 50/50, though, and one person often has primary possessory custodianship. The nonprimary parent often pays child support to the other parent.
Courts follow the “best interest of the child” doctrine, which means that looking at all relevant factors, they choose a custody situation that puts the child’s interests first. These factors may include:
- The parents’ mental and physical health
- The child’s relationship with both parents
- The child’s health and safety
- Where the parents live, including their distance from each other
- The parents’ financial situation
- Any dangers to the child, such as a history of abuse
Texas law does provide for a “standard possession schedule” that many families follow. Under this format, the nonprimary parent receives visitation on the first, third and fifth weekends of each month, as well as an additional 30 days in the summer. Custody orders can always be modified if you have a significant change in circumstances.
Establishing Your Paternity Rights
If you were not married to your child’s mother at the time of the birth, you may not be on the birth certificate. You will need to establish your paternity rights in order to pursue any type of custody. If both parents agree, the process is simple. If the mother will not cooperate, you can bring your own action. We can help you with this process.