Choosing the Best Custody Arrangement for Your Baby

Those first months of a child’s life can be among the most important for the family whose lives the child comes into. There are emotional aspects of adding a new life into the family dynamics. Being able to see and experience a baby in the household, perhaps for the first time, is something to behold. Additionally, there are relational aspects to bringing a baby home. The baby will be bonding with both mother and father during this time. This bonding will occur simultaneously with all the other development that a baby goes through during this time. 

These are real-life challenges that all families manage. However, the challenges can be made more acute when you consider that your family may also be managing other, different relational problems, as well. If you and your co-parent are going through a divorce or child custody case you will not only need to manage the challenges of your case but also of your new family. It is enough to cause you to sit back in your chair and just shake your head in frustration. As parents, we have all experienced these emotions and difficulties. 

What we at the Law Office of Bryan Fagan want you to know is that you do not need to go into this circumstance alone. If you are dealing with changing family dynamics at the same time as a family law case, we invite you to reach out to us today. Our office is the legal support that you need in a time like this. Our experienced family law attorneys can walk with you through whatever you are going through. We can help you process the developments in your family law case so you can spend enough time on the relationships and people that matter most to you in life. 

Basics of court-ordered conservatorship 

When you go into a child custody case, whether it is part of a custody or divorce case, understand that all parts of your relationship with your child will be impacted. The time you spend with your child as well as your rights and duties concerning the child are impacted by this arrangement. With that said, there are ways for you to be able to understand the details an map out a plan that maximizes your time and caretaking with your child. 

This is especially important when you consider that the intricacies of a family law case are magnified when your child is a baby. Any parent can tell you that the day-to-day care for a baby is greater than that for any other age group. Babies are completely reliant upon their parents for care. In many cases, infants need to be close to their mothers to eat nearly around the clock. If not around the clock, mothers need to plan out their days in terms of providing milk for their babies that can be stored and saved for eating later. 

Fathers need to be aware that even though you all may not be as involved in the moment-to-moment care for your baby there are still practical components to a child custody case that deserve your attention. Starting with the concern that many fathers have going into a child custody case is that the mother will always be at an advantage when it comes to child custody cases. Whether it’s because you have been told this by someone else or have observed it to be “true” in your personal life, this is not the case in Texas. You have just as much of a right to be an integral part of your child’s life as his mother. However, you need to take this case seriously and assert yourself as best as possible. 

When we talk about conservatorship in a Texas child custody case, we mean the rights and duties that you have concerning your child. These rights and duties are important to bear in mind because they will impact how you raise your child and interact with your child. Even visitation and “custody” orders are wrapped up in conservatorship. Therefore, you should have a strong sense that your day-to-day relationship with your child will be impacted a great deal in this child custody case. 

The best interests of the child matter the most

When you head into a family law case involving your baby you are probably trying to come up with some goals for the case. These goals may have to do with a wide range of subjects but one of the most important considerations should be what is best for your child. 

We tend to think of negotiations and things of this nature from our vantage point first and foremost. This is a reasonable approach to take. However, now that you are a parent it is right to begin thinking about matters from the perspective of your child first and foremost. Many parents figure this out instinctively. However, it can take some of us more time to begin to realize that what is best for our children may not be best for us. Or at least, what we think is best for us. 

Considering the best interests of your child can be difficult when you take into consideration that you will be “competing” against your co-parent for a wide range of rights of duties. It would be great to think about your co-parent as less a competitor and more as a teammate but from our experiences, this is a tough goal to achieve. The reality of a family law case is that it does pit you and your co-parent against one another in many ways. As a result, it can be challenging to approach the case from the perspective of doing what is best for your children in some cases. 

The best interest of your child is a standard utilized by courts across the country, including in Texas. A best interests determination attempts to consider a wide range of factors including your child’s present and future needs: emotionally, educationally, developmentally, and physically. On top of that, you, and your co-parent’s visions for the future of your child, their current attachment to you, and any other relevant medical needs will also be considered. 

With that said, you will certainly need to think through the life of your child and decide how your child can best be served in a co-parenting relationship. It is best to think about you and your co-parent raising the child together rather than as competitors. You can already see how the case will pit the two of you against one another. However, one of the major complications of a family law case tends to be wasted time and not taking advantage of opportunities to communicate with your co-parent. 

When you work with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan in your child custody or divorce case, you will gain an advocate and a team of people who wish to serve you above all else. We know that there are going to be unique challenges that you face in your case. Due to our experience and level of professionalism, we have what it takes to walk with you through the challenges that come with every family law case. 

Possession and visitation of a baby

When you and your co-parent try to negotiate a parenting schedule for your baby you should be aware that the schedule will be the minimum amount of time that your child can spend with you or your co-parent. You and your co-parent can and often should treat the parenting plan as set in stone as far as following a set path geared towards dividing your time between one another and your child. However, there are times when it may be necessary to deviate from that plan. 

Ideally, what you should be aiming for in creating child custody orders is a plan that allows you, your co-parent, and your baby to have the most meaningful relationships possible. This likely means taking less time than you would like and allowing your co-parent to do the same. From our experiences, when both parents walk out of a family law case feeling like they could have received more time in the court orders then you are in a good position as far as fairness and a division of time is concerned. Again, the court orders represent a minimal amount of time that you will be able to spend with your child during the year.

When you begin a family law case it will set the stage for negotiations to begin between you and your co-parent. Depending upon your situation, your co-parent may be the last person that you want to work with on anything. Again, it is in the best interests of your child that you need to be concerned with and not your feelings about another adult. Rather, if you can focus on your child and doing what is right for him then you will probably experience fewer difficulties in negotiations. 

In Texas, the courts will be requiring you and your co-parent to focus on some specific issues concerning your baby. As we have already discussed in this blog post there are ways that babies are different compared to older children when it comes to their day-to-day care. This reality will be reflected in the court orders that you and your co-parent agree to. If you and your co-parent are experiencing problems negotiating a court order, then a mediator will be utilized to help bring the two of you together so that a settlement is more likely to occur. 

Specific factors that will impact the custody and visitation arrangements for your baby

Perhaps the most important factor of all when considering how to divide up time, rights and duties to your child will be which parent has been the primary caretaker of your baby to that point. For just about every family reading this blog post the answer to that question will invariably be the mother to the baby. This is not a reflection of whether dads can care for infants. It is nearly a complete reflection of parenting roles and biological necessity. Fathers more typically continue to work after a baby is born compared to mothers. Next, mothers are biologically connected to their children through being their primary food source even after the birth of their baby. 

As a result, fathers begin a custody case somewhat at a disadvantage when it comes to trying to win time with their children. However, this does not mean that if you are a father reading this blog post you do not have to take the case seriously. Or that you do not have a great opportunity in your case to be able to position yourself to build a strong relationship with your child. It just means that you will need to be cognizant of these issues and how they can potentially impact the well-being of your child. 

If you were to take your infant away from his mother for a week then that would cause something of a stir in the life of your son. He is used to being with his mother and needs her to live from a food perspective. Not only that but there are emotional and familial bonds that your infant is learning through his relationship to his mother. This is an important consideration for your family as you determine how to be most equitable when it comes to dividing up time between parents in the family law case. 

The schedules of both parents will also be considered when determining how to divide up time in a child custody case. Mothers typically take off from work or may not even be working outside the home when the child is born. Fathers, more traditionally, do work outside the home and rarely take off much time when it comes to the birth of their children. As a result, mothers are needed at home and are frequently given that sort of deference in a child custody order.

Two real-life considerations need to be discussed here, as well. The first of those considerations is how far apart you and your co-parent live from one another. If the two of you live close to one another then that would be ideal. This will minimize the amount of travel time for your baby which any parent reading this blog post can attest to the importance of. On top of that, it makes things logistically simpler in the event of an emergency. Having your co-parent close by is great for peace of mind. 

When you and your co-parent live close together it also makes coordinating a parenting plan significantly easier. Instead of having to plan long travel times, specific times for pick up and drop off and shortened quality periods of possession, you and your co-parent can manage your child rather than manage the travel. It allows for the two of you to be much more flexible when it comes to his time with the two of you. If your child is sick, for example, then you can arrange for make-up periods of possession when the child feels better and not have to concern yourselves primarily with thinking about how the travel logistics are going to work. 

The other consideration that you need to think hard about when creating a parenting plan is how well you and your co-parent get along with one another. We know that there are many different perspectives and considerations when it comes to this subject. There is always a history of some sort between the two parents in a child custody case. In some cases, you and your co-parent may have circumstances in place that do not allow for a functioning co-parenting relationship. An example of such a situation would be one involving family violence. 

However, in other cases being able to effectively co-parent means to set aside your differences and look to the best interests of your children first and foremost. Raising a baby is so much easier and more effective when you and your co-parent can get along with one another. If you are not able to do so it can make the process that much harder. Even babies can pick up on stress and anxiety in the household. That begins to make its way into the persona and character of your child if you are not careful. 

These are just a handful of the relevant topics about how parents in Texas share custody of babies. There is a lot more that we can discuss with you and a free-of-charge consultation with one of our attorneys is a great place to have that discussion. Thank you for joining us here on our blog today. We hope to see you again tomorrow as we continue to share interesting and relevant information about the world of Texas family law. 

Questions about the material contained in today’s blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan

If you have any questions about the material contained in today’s blog post, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free-of-charge consultations six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are a great way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law cases well as how your family’s circumstances may be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody lawsuit. 

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