Children typically do not have a voice in the divorce process, especially if they are under the age of twelve. A Houston Child Custody lawyer of Skillern Firm PLLC is committed to protecting the psychological and emotional well-being of the children. Child custody cases are lawsuits that affect the parent-child relationship. Attorneys Matthew A. Skillern and Tristan H. Longino are zealous advocates in the courtroom and assertive at the negotiating table when the stakes involve your children and your relationship with them.

Although there are exceptions, it is the policy of Texas that both parents will remain involved in their children’s lives following divorce. However, one parent may have the right to determine the children’s primary residence, and the children will most likely spend the majority of the time with that parent. The parent who does not have primary residential custody will be required to pay child support, according to statutory guidelines.

In Texas, a variety of factors are used to determine which household will become the primary residence for children after divorce. Generally, the parent who has been the primary caregiver for most of the children’s lives will have primary residential custody. The Standard Possession Order (“SPO”) gives the other parent frequent and substantial visitation periods, including, but not limited to:

  • The first, third and fifth weekends of the month, either be beginning Friday night and ending Sunday evening at 6:00 p.m. or Monday morning at the time school starts;
  • Thursdays during the school year, beginning at either the release of school, or 6:00 p.m. and ending at either 8:00 p.m. the same night, or at the time school starts the next morning;
  • Alternating holidays such as, Christmas, Spring Break, Thanksgiving;
  • Mother’s Day/Father’s Day/Child’s Birthday; and
  • Thirty days in the summer.

The visitation schedule will usually be different if the parents live over 100 miles apart. Parents can also negotiate a customized schedule to fit their jobs or their children’s needs. At Skillern Firm PLLC we have the experience and understanding to find creative solutions for such customized possession schedules.

In Texas, both parents will typically be named as joint managing conservators, meaning that they will share medical, educational and religious decisions concerning their child. However, one parent can be named the managing conservator if the parents cannot collaborate on raising their child, it would not be in the child’s best interest, or if one of the parents is impaired. The one of the joint managing conservators, or the sole managing conservator (if the parents are not appointed as joint managing conservators), will be given the right establish the child’s primary residence, as discussed above.

Child custody can be modified in the future if there is a significant change in the circumstances of the parents or children.


Relocation/Geographical Restrictions

One of the most difficult and most common challenges divorcing (or divorced) parents face is the desire of one parent to move. Whether that move is to another town, across the state or out of state, the burden placed on the non-primary parent and the children is substantial.

Courts tend to advocate and order geographic restrictions. This is often ordered as the county of the child’s current residence and counties that are contiguous (touching) that county.

Keeping the child in a certain geographical area is thought to be a stabilizing influence, because the child’s relationship with both parents is sustained. Frequent access to both parents is known to have a powerful positive influence on the child. However, sometimes a parent must move with the child, such as when a parent has primary conservatorship (physical custody) and that parent’s employer requires a mandatory move, or that parent remarries and is compelled to move because of circumstances beyond his or her control.

Keeping an adult from moving freely about the country runs contrary to the United States Constitution, but because states have a compelling interest in the well-being of resident children, courts have ruled that states have the right to restrict the child’s movement. Furthermore, because of these child custody restrictions, parents may have fears they will be charged with kidnapping. If you are a parent, you want to know what will happen when you move. Our firm can advise you about the limits of the law. Your well-being and your child’s well-being are important to us.

Judges and courts never like to separate children from their parents, but Texas family courts also understand that there are a number of very good reasons why a parent must move away.

The law concerning relocation cases is not black and white. There are no hard and fast answers regarding child custody and move-aways. Keep in mind every case is different.

Following a divorce, one of the parents may want to move to another city or state to accept a better job offer, to be closer to family, or for other reasons. Move-away situations can be more complicated than other change of custody motions. If a parent objects to the child moving away with the other parent, the court will determine whether to allow the move. Factors which will be considered include:

  • The reason and motives for the move
  • The child’s attachment to his or her current school, friends and community;
  • The relationship between the child and the parent who is not moving away;
  • How the move will affect the child; and
  • The preferences of the child (especially if over the age of 12).