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Are You Seeking Primary Custody of Your Child? Read This Blog to Find Out More

When parents turn to the Law Office of Bryan Fagan for guidance, a common question that arises pertains to the possibility of assuming the role of the primary conservator for their child. Primary conservatorship encompasses the responsibility for your child’s daily care and residence, particularly during the school week. In this article, we will examine the factors related to pursuing primary conservatorship and offer guidance to individuals who aspire to be designated as their child’s primary conservator. Additionally, we will touch upon the role of a guardian ad litem in this context.

Transitioning Roles: Possessory to Primary Conservator

Transitioning from a possessory conservator to a primary conservator can be a challenging process, but it is not impossible. In some cases, the other parent may willingly agree to the change, making the transition relatively straightforward. They may inform you of their intention to drop off your child at your residence and have no plans to take them back. In such instances, you can contact the Office of the Attorney General to initiate the process of modifying your child support order and reversing the conservatorship roles through a modification lawsuit.

Contesting Primary Conservatorship

However, in most cases, the other parent may contest your efforts to become the primary conservator. Contesting this change means they do not agree with your proposal and are not willing to simply drop off your child at your residence. Changing conservatorship roles is a significant decision, as it not only affects the time you spend with your child but also your eligibility to receive child support payments. To succeed in a modification case for primary conservatorship, you must demonstrate a substantial change in circumstances that justifies this shift in the child’s living arrangement.

Undertaking a modification case, especially one aiming to establish you as the primary conservator, requires careful consideration and strong legal representation. Convincing a judge to approve such a significant change demands compelling evidence and well-crafted arguments. While it is technically possible to file a modification case without legal counsel, it is not advisable due to the intricacies involved in the process and the gravity of the outcome on your child’s life. Hiring an experienced attorney can significantly improve your chances of success and ensure your child’s best interests are upheld throughout the legal proceedings.

Understanding Modification Cases in Texas Family Law

In a modification case, you will essentially present your arguments and evidence to a judge to demonstrate why your child’s best interests would be better served if you were named as the primary conservator. Conversely, your opposing party will present their own evidence to counter your claims.

As previously mentioned, the heart of the matter lies in determining what is in the best interests of your child. Your personal desires and perceptions of fairness take a back seat in this process. If, in your opinion, it is logical for you to be designated as the primary conservator, but the court deems that maintaining the child’s current living situation is in their best interests, your modification case may not succeed.

In many modification cases, especially those involving primary conservatorship, a guardian ad litem may be appointed by the judge. The guardian ad litem plays a crucial role by meeting with all parties involved and reporting their findings back to the court. This is particularly important because judges cannot visit your homes themselves. The guardian ad litem serves as the eyes and ears of the court in assessing what is truly in the child’s best interests.

To clarify, the guardian ad litem advocates for your child’s best interests throughout the modification case. Since you are seeking to make a significant change in your child’s life, whether or not it is genuinely in their best interests, the law does not allow you to solely represent these interests. A neutral third party, the guardian ad litem, is appointed to ensure an impartial evaluation. Please note that the guardian ad litem charges a fee, which may be borne by one party or shared between both parties, depending on the judge’s orders.

Navigating Modification Cases in Texas Family Law

You must understand that any existing court order will remain in effect until you return to court and obtain new rulings or a modified order. Typically, you initiate modifications through a modification case, allowing either you or your child’s other parent to request changes to a court order based on a substantial change in circumstances affecting you, your child, or the other parent.

You are legally obligated to adhere to the order’s terms precisely as written until the court officially modifies it. Failure to comply with the order can result in contempt of court charges, including potential jail time. In less severe cases, you may have to pay fines to your ex-spouse and risk losing time with your child.

Many modification cases reach resolution through mediation. Mediation provides you, the other parent, and your attorneys with the opportunity to settle the case outside of court, allowing for more flexible and creative solutions. Under the guidance of a skilled mediator, you can explore new paths to resolution that you may not have considered before, ultimately reaching an agreement that benefits both parties.

Understanding Geographic Restrictions

Parents often contemplate modifying court orders with regards to their place of residence. Your child’s comfort, friends, and activities in their current location may make them resistant to moving elsewhere. However, personal reasons such as a new job opportunity, a desire to live closer to family, or a more appealing location can drive your desire to relocate.

Geographic restrictions are an essential aspect of such considerations. Essentially, a geographic restriction restricts the primary residence of your child. Typically, it limits their residence to your home county and any neighboring counties.

If the custodial parent intends to move beyond these boundaries, you must inform them of your intention to file an enforcement case against them. This enforcement case aims to uphold the terms of the existing court order, highlighting the violation and recommending appropriate consequences. Violating a court order constitutes contempt of court and may lead to criminal penalties.

If your initial court order did not include a geographic restriction, you can pursue a modification case to incorporate one into an amended order. There are numerous ways to argue that a geographic restriction is in your child’s best interests.

Responding to Your Child’s Desire to Live Primarily with You

Children often change their minds about where they want to live on a full-time basis. Therefore, if your child expresses a fleeting desire to live with you full time, it’s crucial to understand the underlying reasons. If there are valid justifications for altering the conservatorship arrangement, you can initiate a modification case. However, if your child’s reasons are trivial, like disliking vegetables at the other parent’s house, it may be best to hold off on legal action.

Before embarking on another family law case, consider discussing the issue with your child’s other parent to explore informal modifications. Perhaps both of you can successfully negotiate a few days each month when your child can choose to stay with either parent. Effective co-parenting skills are essential for such arrangements.

Your child’s motivations for wanting to live primarily with you can vary. As they grow older, they may desire more control over their living situation, leading to a desire for a change in conservatorship roles. However, carefully weigh the decision, as taking on this additional responsibility is a significant commitment. Your choice to file a modification case should align with your ability to manage the added responsibilities.

In any case, it’s advisable for you and the other parent to be the primary decision-makers regarding your child’s primary residence. Children’s preferences can change frequently, so your wisdom and guidance as adults can help them navigate such decisions. By presenting a united front and parenting as a team, everyone involved can benefit.

Stay Tuned for More on Modification Cases

If you have questions regarding the topics discussed today, please don’t hesitate to reach out to the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys are available for free consultations six days a week at our office. These consultations offer you an excellent opportunity to seek answers and receive tailored advice for your specific situation.

Our attorneys and staff take immense pride in serving members of our community, just like you. In the family courts of southeast Texas, we have earned a reputation for prioritizing our clients’ interests. Our courtroom success is the result of collaborative efforts with our clients and our commitment to actively listen and understand their needs.

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Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC | Kingwood Divorce Lawyer

The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding divorce, it’s important to speak with ar Kingwood, TX Divorce Lawyer right away to protect your rights.

A divorce lawyer in Kingwood TX is skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC handles Divorce cases in Spring, Texas, Cypress, Spring, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, Houston, the FM 1960 area, or surrounding areas, including Harris County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Galveston County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County and Waller County.

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