Deciding where your child will live and who gets to make decisions about their future following a divorce or separation can be challenging to navigate. There are a few things to consider when planning to make child custody arrangements in Texas. Here are the top five:

  1. Negotiation. If there is a general sense of amicability between the two parents involved, things go a lot smoother. In these types of situations, it is up to the parent or guardian to draft a custody plan that fits the needs of both adults and at the same time provides the best possible outcome for the child. 
  2. Mediation. Often a custody plan is brought to mediation, a process that is sometimes built into the divorce process, but can also be requested via petition in certain circumstances like that of unmarried parents or legal guardianship. In the mediation process, any disputes between parents are hashed out with the guidance of a third-party mediator to help come to an agreement on visitation, conservatorship status, and other parameters. 
  3. Legal Representation. In instances where the two people filing for a custody order are not on good terms with each other, the whole process can get a bit more complicated. This is when it is a good idea to consider legal representation. Hiring a lawyer can be advantageous for a number of reasons. For starters, it can be far more efficient than handling everything on your own. You will have more time to tend to personal responsibilities like work and childcare if you have a professional who knows the system working on all of the legal documentation and communicating with the court on your behalf. It is especially recommended to have a lawyer if the other parent has already hired one, if there has been any form of abuse by the other parent, and if no terms can be agreed upon during mediation.
  4. Types of Custody. There are several types of legal custody, including sole custody, shared custody, temporary custody and split custody. In Texas, custody is referred to as conservatorship. In a joint conservatorship, both people have equal control over where the child lives and goes to school, what kind of healthcare they receive and where they spend their time. Other custody plans include sole conservatorship where mainly one person, the custodial parent, has the final say on all of these major factors in the life of the child, leaving the other parent with a limited control over things in this kind of category.
  5. Modifications. Sometimes legal custody orders can be modified, but it has to be in  the best interest of the child. This can only happen under a few circumstances, including instances of family violence or physical or emotional danger to the child. In addition, custody arrangements can be changed if the child is 12 years old or older and tells the court he wants to change his primary caretaker; if the parents agree to a change; if the primary caretaker gives up possession of the child for at least six months; or if there’s been a significant change in the financial or medical circumstances in a child or parent.

Deciding what you can agree to regarding child custody, whether you should hire an attorney, and what type of custody plan you are interested in are all important decisions that you will be able to make when informed by the right sources. 

This blog does not constitute legal advice. To learn more about hiring an attorney to represent you in a child custody case, reach out to Sandoval Family Law today.