Who Will Get Custody Of Our Child(Ren) And How Is Custody Decided?

The court will determine possession and access to the child/children based on the best interest of the child.

In determining the best interest of the child, the court will consider evidence relating to a wide array of factors including: physical and emotional needs; physical and emotional danger; stability of home; plans for child; cooperation between parents; parenting skills; who was the child’s primary caregiver; the child’s preferences if the child is 12 or older; geographic proximity of the children; keeping siblings together; false reports of child abuse; and fitness of each parent (including: abuse; physical force; family violence).

How Can I Increase My Chances At Getting A Larger Custody Agreement?

You can increase their chances at getting a larger custody agreement by proving to the court that you are an integral part of the children’s lives. This includes showing the court that you exercise regular visitation; that you take the kids to their extra-curricular activities; that you care for them on a daily basis; and that you are stable and competent to take the children for longer periods of time.

It is always helpful to keep a journal and calendar of everything that you do for and with the children leading up to the temporary orders or final determination of custody so you can show the court, mediator or opposing party that you are capable and deserving of a larger possession and access period.

What Is Visitation?

Texas does not use the term “visitation.” However, as stated above Texas uses the terms possession and access. Possession and access refers to when the parents have physical custody of the children or when they can visit with the children. Texas has two statutory possession and access schedules: standard and extended standard.

These schedules dictate the time each parent spends with the child. However, the parties can agree on different possession and access schedules based on their needs or the court can order a different possession and access schedule based on the best interest of the child.

Can A Judge Order Supervised Visitation Or No Visitation?

If the other party can prove that the children’s emotional or physical well-being is at risk of being harmed, the court can order supervised visitation.

Do Courts Favor The Mother Over The Father?

No, courts are not supposed to favor a mother or father. The courts are suppose to consider what is in the best interests of the child.

What Should I Know Before A Custody Trial?

You should know extensive and detailed information about your child. For example, you should know:

  • Child’s birthdate;
  • Child’s allergies;
  • Child’s special needs;
  • Child’s medical background;
  • Child’s schedule;
  • Child’s extracurricular activities and the names of all sponsors/coaches;
  • Your children’s school, teachers and grade.

Basically you should know any basic information about your child that your spouse/the other parent will know.

Can I Collect My Own Evidence To Use If My Custody Case Goes To Court?

It is always best to have an attorney to guide you through the collection of evidence. There are complicated rules governing the collection of evidence as well as the admissibility of the evidence.

Do I Need To Use A Guardian Ad Litem/Custody Evaluator?

In Texas, we typically don’t use Guardian ad Litems, we more typically use amicus attorneys. A Guardian ad Litem and/or amicus attorney is often used when the children are under the influence of the strength of one party or the children are experiencing a great amount of change. It allows the child to have an advocate for their rights who is not persuaded by other factors.

Because the parties sometimes become wrapped up in “side issues,” it may be most helpful to the judge to have a third party neutral or advocate for the children come in and evaluate the case. Typically Guardian ad Litems and amicus attorneys are used when there is to be a termination of the parental rights, an adoption, or if there is physical/mental abuse.

Will My Child Need To Appear In Court?

Typically your child will not need to appear in court unless one of the parties has filed a Motion to Confer with Child. This type of motion is usually filed when one of the children is 12 or older and wants to express with the court whom they would like to reside with.

Please note that it is never a good idea to bring your child to the court for any family matters.

What Is The Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act?

The Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act is in effect a statute enacted by Congress to assist states in enforcing possession and access to a child. It provides some jurisdictional rules as well as enforcement standards that can assist in allowing parents to have their possession and access rights enforced.

What If My Wife Tries To Move The Kids Out State?

It is always important to try and maintain a stable and safe environment for the kids and the judge will try and maintain that stable and safe environment. Typically counties will have a standing order that will prohibit the parties from taking the children out of state, or your attorney can help you get a Temporary Restraining Order that will prevent your wife from moving out of state.

If you already have orders in your case regarding possession and access to your children, you can still file a Temporary Restraining Order to keep your wife from moving the children from the state. It is possible to limit the children’s residence to the state of Texas, the current county and/or contiguous counties.

Can A Parent Change The Child’s Last Name Without The Other Parent’s Permission?

No. Both parents must consent to change the child’s last name.