Commonly Asked Texas Child Custody Questions ? Part 2 of a 3 part blog post dealing with many of the commonly asked Texas child custody questions that I frequently get in handling child custody cases.

Do Grandparents Have Custody And Visitation Rights?

No, grandparents do not typically have custody and visitation rights, unless they can meet the statutory requirements, including:

1.) at least one parent not having their parental rights terminated at the time relief is requested;

2.) overcoming the presumption that a fit parent acts in the best interest of their child in denying possession or it would signification impair the child’s physical health or emotional well being; and

3.) the grandparent must be the parent of the child and that parent of the child must be either i.) declared incompetent by the court; ii.) is dead, or iii.) does not have actual or court-ordered possession to the child.

What Is A Parenting Plan, And Do I Need One?

Yes, every case involving children needs a parenting plan. A parenting plan sets the rights and duties of a parent regarding the child. Some rights and duties include: right to designate primary residence; right to make decisions regarding the child’s health; rights to make decisions regarding the child’s education; duty to provide health insurance; duty to provide child support and many others.

If My Separation Agreement Includes Custody/Support Can It Be Included In The Divorce Decree?

Texas does not have separation agreements. Instead the state has temporary orders. Upon agreement of the parties or upon order of the court, the possession and access/support terms from the temporary orders can be included in the final decree of divorce.

What Can I Expect From Temporary Orders?

Upon filing of a divorce or other family matter, a party may request the court enter a temporary order governing the matter. Temporary orders allow the parties to get agreed upon or court-ordered “rules” governing various aspects of the domestic arena, including child conservatorship, possession and access, child support, property division, spousal support and various other items.

When Will Child Custody Be Decided?

Possession and access will be decided on a temporary basis in the temporary orders either by agreement or by order of the court. Possession and access will be decided on a permanent basis in either the final decree of divorce or in the order on Suit Affecting Parent-Child Relationship (SAPCR).

When Can I Modify Custody?

You can modify custody if it is in the best interests of the child and:

1.) the parents agree;

2.) if the child is 12 years old or older and tells the court he wants to change his primary caretaker;

3.) the person with the right to determine the primary residence relinquishes care and possession of the child for at least 6 months; or there has been a material and substantial change in the circumstances of either the child, the parent, the conservator or another significant party.

The most common way people modify custody is by showing that there has been a significant change in a party’s circumstances, which is a very broad category and can be proven in a variety of ways.

What If We Cannot Agree On A Custody Arrangement?

The parties can request a trial to have the court determine custody arrangement or the parties can participate in mediation to help the parties come to an agreement.

What Is An Ex Parte Order?

An ex parte order is an order that was taken without one of the parties present. These are usually only warranted upon an emergency of one of the parties.