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Are You Encountering a Complex Child Custody Issue? Learn What Your Judge Will Think

The majority of family law cases, whether child custody or divorce, do not require any sort of contested hearing. Most of the time you and your opposing party would be able to settle whatever issues are relevant to your case- either in mediation or in an informal settlement negotiation. However, there鈥檚 a chance that a settlement won鈥檛 be reached, and you鈥檒l need a hearing or trial. Will judge look on you more favorably if spouse is uncooperative? It鈥檚 important to consider what steps you can take to improve your chances of impressing the judge favorably, as this greatly influences your success.

Navigating judicial decision-making in Texas family courts

That is the tough part of going to see the judge. Judges rely on the Texas Family Code, decisions from Texas appellate courts, and their own experiences on the bench to guide them in making decisions.聽Judges also have reputations and habits as far as what they do and do not like to see as well as how they typically rule in any given situation.

Lawyers will commonly talk amongst themselves about how Judge X really doesn鈥檛 like it when parents abuse marijuana, or how Judge Y has a fit whenever a parent is disrespectful in court to the other parent. With no offense intended towards my colleagues, I always think that these are fairly obvious things that most judges would not approve of and would prefer not to see in their courtrooms. Breaking news: judge doesn鈥檛 like drug use around children nor do they like disrespectful parties in their courtroom.

What you and I are here to talk about today will hopefully be more relevant and certainly more helpful than the pieces of advice that I gave you a moment ago. Rather than zero in on factors that are likely not relevant to your case, I would like to share with you some advice on how a family court judge is likely to view your case from a child custody perspective. Will judge look on you more favorably if spouse is uncooperative? In Texas family law, cases are typically not as one-sided as when a powerhouse football team plays against a school in its first year of having a team, resulting in scores like 70-0. Instead, what鈥檚 more common are situations involving reasonable individuals who struggle to settle their case and thus resort to bringing it before a judge.

Will judge look on you more favorably if spouse is uncooperative? Judging is not easy

When you request judges to decide your child custody case, they face a challenging situation. This might seem counterintuitive. We all, whether we admit it or not, judge other people as well as ourselves. We may occasionally wonder, 鈥淲hy would that person do that?鈥 Coworkers, friends, family, and even strangers often leave us puzzled, questioning their actions. Before we proceed, it鈥檚 worth noting that all of us have likely elicited that same reaction from others at some point.

Pity the family court judge tasked with judging you and your spouse in a divorce trial, especially when both of you are good parents, actively involved with your children, and lack concerning behaviors like drug use or violence. Now, you confront a judge who must serve as a tiebreaker on crucial issues, such as determining where your child will primarily reside after the divorce. It鈥檚 their duty to make these decisions if you cannot, yet it鈥檚 far from an easy task. One significant challenge is that while the judge will learn about you and your spouse during the trial, they will never truly know either of you personally.

Your judge faces a complex task, considering various factors such as the law, family dynamics, and financial considerations. It鈥檚 not as straightforward as simply looking up the law and making a decision like a computer might. Subjective biases, opinions, and perceptions of you and your spouse play a significant role. You now confront a judge tasked with playing a tiebreaker on crucial issues, such as deciding where your child will primarily reside after the divorce. Family courts in Texas rely on judges鈥 abilities to analyze cases from both objective and subjective perspectives.

Can your judge see into the future?

Obviously, the answer to this question is, No. It is impossible to tell the future precisely but essentially that is exactly what you and your spouse are doing if you take your case to court for a trial in your divorce case. Past behavior can be a good barometer of future results, but as any financial planner will tell you it is not always the case and cannot always be relied upon. Will judge look on you more favorably if spouse is uncooperative? At least part of what the judge is doing is deciding, at least on a subconscious level, how likely you or your spouse is to perform well in a role as the primary conservator to your child. He or she will be placing their 鈥渂et鈥 in part on evidence and in part on past performance.

Essentially your judge will be utilizing the 鈥渂est interest鈥 standard as laid out in the Texas Family Code. Unsurprisingly, this standard asks the judge to look at all the available evidence and make a determination about what is in the best interests of your child as far as custody, possession, visitation, child support, and any other relevant issue are concerned. While some case-law exists on this subject to aid the judge in evaluating your case, the assessment largely relies on the judge鈥檚 subjective judgment.聽You and your spouse place a great deal of trust in the judge to be able to make this assessment.

Pressure on the trial court judge

When you are in a judge鈥檚 courtroom there is not only pressure on you, your spouse and your attorneys but also on the judge. The reason is that what your judge orders is likely what will be in effect for you and your family for many years as far as decisions regarding what is going to happen with your child. Most families do not appeal decisions from a trial court judge, and even if you do, it鈥檚 statistically unlikely that your judge鈥檚 decision would be overturned and sent back for a re-trial.聽If the judge doesn鈥檛 get it 鈥渞ight鈥 the first time there could be significantly negative effects for you and your family.

Goals of a judge in your child custody trial

Just as you and your attorney will likely strategize and set goals for your divorce case, the judge also has objectives to consider from the outset of a case. It鈥檚 worth contemplating what those goals might be. Will judge look on you more favorably if spouse is uncooperative? Ultimately, it鈥檚 the judge鈥檚 opinion that matters most, not yours, your spouse鈥檚, or any family member鈥檚. This analysis holds true even if you and your spouse appear before the judge multiple times, including before a temporary orders hearing.

Judges handle a full docket of cases daily, including ones like yours and your spouse鈥檚 where solutions can鈥檛 be reached without court intervention. Therefore, it鈥檚 crucial for a judge to expedite cases to keep the docket manageable. A busy docket means less time available for each case, including yours.

More important than keeping a tidy docket, a judge will be looking to the overall well-being of your child. We鈥檝e already discussed that your judge will apply what is known as the best interest standard to the case. Essentially, this means that the judge will need to determine which decisions are most likely to benefit your child鈥檚 mental, physical, and emotional well-being.聽While judges do this all the time, it is their job, after all, it is still a pretty burdensome responsibility, all things considered.

Your child鈥檚 development is a crucial consideration in determining their best interests. Depending on their age, they will face various developmental challenges. Decisions about their primary residence and which parent they will live with significantly influence how well they navigate these challenges. Therefore, the judge needs knowledge about child development, suitable environments, and effective methods to foster it.

Your parenting is fair game in a judge鈥檚 analysis

Your relationship with your child undergoes scrutiny by the judge during case analysis. How well do you connect? This question can be challenging to answer, given your child鈥檚 age and the judge鈥檚 limited understanding. Nevertheless, your bond with your child is pivotal. Failure to demonstrate your active and involved role in your child鈥檚 life can adversely affect your position in the custody case.

Will judge look on you more favorably if spouse is uncooperative? What sort of skills and deficiencies do you possess as a parent? We all have our strong suits and our weaknesses as parents and the purpose of your trial, in part, is to expose those for the judge to see. Are you terrific at being a provider for your child but not so good as actually being present in the home due to your hectic work schedule? What if, on the other hand, you are a loving parent who is present in the home but your problems with self-control and anger often leave you on the edge of acting inappropriately with your spouse or child? These are the realities that your family court judge will have to sort through.

Finally, consider what parenting skills you possess. For an infant or toddler, you would need to be able to show the judge that not only can you financially provide for your child but that you have the necessary parenting skills to ensure that your child thrives. If you have never spent an afternoon playing with a one-year-old or changed a diaper, then convincing a judge that you are better equipped to do so compared to your spouse (in most cases) can be challenging.

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Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC | Houston, Texas Divorce Lawyers

The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding divorce, it鈥檚 important to speak with one of our Houston, TX Divorce Lawyers right away to protect your rights.

Our divorce lawyers in Houston TX are 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 Houston, Texas, Cypress, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, 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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