What if We Cannot Agree On An Arrangement For Custody in Texas?
When two parents disagree about what is best for their children, it is difficult to come to a child custody arrangement. Both parents may want physical custody of the children, one parent may want to send the children to private school, or parents may disagree on the important issues in the child’s life.
Coming to a custody agreement and getting it signed by a family court Judge is the only way to ensure that both parties abide by the terms of the agreement. If you cannot agree on an arrangement for custody, it is vital that you contact a family law attorney. An attorney can help you with mediation, prioritizing the best interest of your children, and fighting on your behalf in family court if necessary.
Family Law Attorneys at Skillern Firm
At Skillern Firm, we know that coming to a child custody agreement can be tough and that each divorce case is completely different. Because of this, we take an individualized approach to every case that comes through our doors. Our law firm prioritizes mediation and negotiation, and we will try to help you come to an agreement with the other parent without going to court.
However, if necessary, our family law attorneys are prepared to fight tooth and nail on your behalf in court. Our lawyers have significant experience with mediation and litigation, and four of our attorneys are Board Certified in Family Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, which is a recognition that only 1% of family lawyers in Texas have.
Our managing attorney, Matthew Skillern, has won multiple awards and recognition for his dedication to family law and has an AVVO rating of 10.0. Our law firm comprises family attorneys with the strongest skills and experience levels that you can find. We guarantee top-quality legal services for every case, and we will do everything we can to secure a favorable outcome on your behalf.
Call our law firm today to schedule a consultation at 936-213-8479.
Child Custody Agreements
When parents divorce or do not live together, there is typically a custody agreement for the children. In Texas, child custody is broken down into two categories: physical custody and legal custody. Physical custody relates to possession and access of the children. Legal custody relates to the parent’s rights and duties to make important decisions in the children’s lives.
When parents agree on custody matters, they typically draw up a parenting plan, with the help of their attorneys. This plan sets out the primary residence of the children, visitation rights, the child’s schedule, and other important matters. Depending on the situation, you could have a sole custody agreement or a joint managing conservatorship.
Sole child custody is when just one parent has legal and physical custody of the children. In a sole custody agreement, the main parent reserves the right to make all important decisions in the child’s life alone and has complete physical possession of the child. This includes decisions about their education, medical care, extracurricular activities, and other important matters.
In some cases, the other parent may have supervised visitation or court-ordered visitation. However, Texas law prevents parents from accessing their children if there is proof of harm or abuse, such as domestic violence, child abuse, alcohol or substance abuse, or family violence. To petition for sole legal custody, you must provide evidence that your child’s health or well-being would be endangered if the other parent had access.
Most custody agreements in Texas are joint managing conservatorship. In a joint custody order, both parents have equal rights to their children. This means that both parents have an equal say in important decisions in their children’s lives. With physical custody, one parent usually acts as the primary caregiver and the other parent has visitation rights.
The children have their primary residence with the primary caregiver and have scheduled visitation with their other parent, as per the visitation order. The type of visitation depends on the particular case. It could be visitation on specific weekdays, specific weekends, or by agreement.
In a joint custody agreement, the primary caregiver must have the other parent’s permission before making important decisions in the child’s life, including schooling, and health decisions. The primary caregiver reserves the right to make emergency health decisions or schedule doctor’s appointments without the consent of the other parent.
Making a Child Custody Agreement
When making a child custody agreement, there are several factors that a Judge will consider. The primary concern of a family court Judge is the child’s best interests. If the child is over the age of 12, the Judge will allow them to voice their opinion on where they want to live. However, the court will not make a court order based solely on the child’s opinion.
Factors the court will consider for a custody order include:
The parent-child relationship
Where the child lives currently, where their school is, and where their community is
The health and stability of each parent
The child’s age
The financial situation of both parents
Whether the child wants to spend time with the other parent
The emotional and physical needs of the child
Any evidence of drug abuse, child abuse, or domestic violence with either parent
Ideally, parents will put forward a parenting plan outlining who will have primary care of the children and a visitation schedule. However, when parents cannot agree on a custody arrangement, you will need to mediate with the help of attorneys and a professional mediator or bring the case to court for a Judge to decide.
What If We Cannot Agree On An Arrangement For Custody in Texas?
Coming to a child custody agreement requires both parents to agree on what is in the child’s best interests. Too often, parents disagree with this and find it challenging to come to an amicable agreement. It is difficult to view the situation objectively if you are going through a divorce and there are many other issues involved.
Parents may resolve a child custody disagreement by hiring an independent mediator or going to court with the backing of an attorney.
Alternative Dispute Resolution (Mediation)
Many people see going to court as the last option in a child custody case. Before going to court, parties may hire an independent mediator. A mediator will listen to what both parties believe is in the child’s best interest and help them come to an agreement.
When dealing with a mediator, it is important to hire an attorney representing your case. You and your attorney will sit in one room with the mediator and the other party will speak with their attorney and the mediator in another room. The mediator will then try to come to a fair solution, considering the needs of the child and the wishes of both parents.
Often, people believe that mediation will not work in their case and that they could never come to an agreement on possession orders, visitation orders, and custody orders with their ex-partner. However, with the help of an experienced lawyer, you will be surprised at what can be achieved through mediation.
Mediation can also help communication between both parties and encourage parents to work together in the promotion of their child’s best interests. Parents can also prevent private information from going on the public record through mediation.
When an agreement cannot be reached through mediation or informal negotiations, the parties involved may need to bring the case to a family court. In a court case, it is up to the Judge to make a final decision on custody matters, visitation rights, and parenting time.
Texas law presumes that standard possession orders are best for the child in most cases. This involves a joint custody arrangement, where one parent has primary custody and the other has visitation rights at the weekend. Both parents have equal say on important decisions in the child’s life and have equal control over the children.
However, if you believe that a standard possession order is not in the child’s best interest, you need to provide sufficient evidence to prove this to a Judge. This may include proof of a dangerous home situation, jail time, or domestic abuse. An experienced family lawyer can help you petition for a custody order that is in your child’s best interests.
What If The Other Parent Violates The Child Custody Agreement?
If you have a child custody arrangement in place, both parties are required to respect the terms of the agreement. Custody arrangements are court orders, and the penalties for violating a court order can be severe. Depending on the violation, the other parent may have their custody and visitation rights reduced, lose custody of the children, or face court fines.
Violating a custody order could look like:
One parent refuses to grant visitation to the other parent
A parent continuously shows up late to pick up the child
Parental kidnapping, when one parent takes a child to another state or country without permission or running away with the child
One parent using drugs or drinking excessively in front of the children
If you believe that your ex-partner has violated a custody order, speak with an attorney as soon as possible. They can help get the order changed to protect your children and ensure that the other parent is held accountable.
Contact a Child Custody Attorney at Skillern Firm Today!
Child custody agreements are often the most difficult part of family law cases. When one parent refuses to sign a custody order, or the parties involved cannot come to a civil agreement, you may need to take extra measures to protect your child’s best interests. This usually includes mediation or bringing the case to court.
Our clients sometimes ask, ‘can Texas law help us come to a child custody agreement?’. The reality is that hiring an experienced family attorney and getting a skilled mediator to help your case is the easiest way to resolve difficult child custody issues. At Skillern Firm, we have a team of family attorneys that can help resolve tough child custody issues.
Our law firm has significant experience with Texas family law and we have been helping clients with child custody cases for many years. An experienced attorney from our firm can help you by advising you on your parental rights, assessing your child’s best interest, speaking with a mediator on your behalf, and fighting to ensure that you receive fair parenting time.
Call our law firm today to schedule an initial consultation at 936-213-8479.