Deer Park Child Custody Lawyers Assert Parents’ Rights
Effective counsel promotes clients’ ability to maintain a close relationship with their children
For many parents, child custody disputes are the toughest part of their divorce, and sometimes even their post-divorce life. At The Law Office of Shelly A. Merchant, our Deer Park child custody lawyers understand your concerns. We strive to establish custody agreements that preserve parental rights and serve the best interests of children. Texas law uses some different terms than other states when addressing these issues and you can count on us to represent you effectively during settlement discussions, mediations and in court. Our attorneys draft detailed parenting time schedules and advise clients on requests made by their co-parents. When it is necessary to protect your children from an unfit parent or uphold your rights to meaningful contact with your children, you can trust us to deliver strong advocacy on your behalf.
How child custody works in Texas
Under Texas family law, the legal authority that parents have in regard to their sons and daughters is referred to as conservatorship. Other jurisdictions refer to this authority as legal custody. When both parents have the legal right to influence decisions concerning their children’s school, healthcare and medical treatment, the parents are called joint managing conservators.
Creating a proper environment for a child hinges on the establishment of healthy arrangements concerning residential custody and visitation. If the youth lives primarily in one parent’s home, that parent is designated as the custodial parent.
A noncustodial parent has the rights of possession and access, which means they are entitled to communicate frequently with their son or daughter and spend time with them according to a court-ordered parenting plan.
The appropriateness of a custody arrangement depends on a totality of the circumstances. Usually, everyone benefits when responsibilities are shared in a cooperative manner. If joint arrangements are not appropriate or practical, we will advocate for an order that grants sole residential and/or legal custody. We help our clients weigh various factors to determine what arrangement would be optimal for them and their kids. With guidance, many couples are able to draft a parenting plan informally or through mediation so that it can be approved by the court.
How is child custody determined in Texas?
When a child custody dispute goes to court, the judge is bound to render a decision based on what he or she believes to be in the best interests of the child. Factors that can go into this determination can include:
- The ability of each parent to provide a suitable residence for the child and assume the role of a primary caretaker
- The quality of the present relationship between each parent and the child
- The likelihood that a custodial parent would encourage a positive relationship between the child and the other parent
- Any history of substance abuse, violence, or sexual abuse
- The preference of the child if he or she is mature enough
Traditionally, some laws favored mothers as primary caretakers, but that preference of Moms over Dads does not exist in today’s Texas Statutes. Like mothers, fathers can seek sole conservatorship and challenge their co-parent’s fitness. In contentious disputes, the court may request psychologist’s reports, home visits from social workers, or character references.
Modification and enforcement of Texas child custody orders
If one parent does not abide by the terms of the custody order, the other parent can request enforcement from the court. Should a parent seek to relocate or make another substantial change, he or she can petition the court to modify the custody order.
Contact an experienced Deer Park divorce lawyer to discuss a child custody issue
The Law Office of Shelly A. Merchant assists parents throughout Harris County with all types of Texas child custody concerns. To schedule a consultation, please call 281-817-0998 or contact us online. Our office is located in Deer Park at 2703 Center Street.