One of the most frequently litigated types of family law cases in the state of Texas is child custody cases. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan has been fortunate to serve families across southeast Texas in these types of cases and has achieved superior results for our clients through diligent representation and attention to detail. Having an experienced family law attorney for your child custody case can be the difference between achieving your goals and suffering losses where you otherwise may not have to.
When discussing child custody cases one of the most important factors to consider is that child custody orders are extremely difficult to overturn or modify in the future. Many parents go through a divorce or child custody case and presume that they will be able to go back and simply change what happened with little stress or fuss. This is not the case. Your best bet is to negotiate for, and if necessary, litigate for the child custody orders that you want in your first opportunity. To assume that you will have another opportunity in the future to get the orders you want is a mistake. You need to be intentional and focused and have a game plan in your first child custody case.
It makes sense to focus on the most important issues that you are likely to face in your child custody case. Whether you are encountering a child custody case as part of your divorce or as a stand-alone case there will be challenges that you will need to face head-on. The thing about family law cases is that there has never been a "perfect" case where both parties agree on all subjects, all deadlines are met without stress, and everyone walks away happy. You can get close- but you’ll never have the perfect case.
With that said, a child custody case takes the potential issues in a family law case and ramps them up to a higher level. These are complex issues related to complex little people that you oversee. Did I mention that these little people love you and you love them back? There are emotional components to a child custody case that you just don't see in property division. The math associated with property division is nothing compared to the emotional tug of a child custody case. To say that you are likely to be pulled in multiple directions all at one time when involved in a custody or divorce case is an understatement. You are better off learning as much as you can about the process, developing a strategy, and then ultimately deciding whether you want to hire an attorney to help you execute that strategy.
Did you know that the attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan devote nearly all our practice to family law clients? We seek to serve our neighbors in this southeast Texas community and have for years. By looking through our website and getting to know our lawyers and staff we hope that you will become more comfortable with the idea of hiring an attorney if you are not already at ease with that concept. For some of you, it can take some time to process that you are going through a divorce, and you will need some guidance along that path. For others, you may be chomping at the bit to hire a lawyer, file your case and get a move on with your life.
Whatever category you find yourself in, know that the Law Office of Bryan Fagan is here for you. Do you find yourself with more questions than answers at this stage? That’s normal. Come into our office and speak with one of our attorneys at no cost. You can talk to us about your circumstances and find out information that may be very helpful to you and your family. We can walk you through a divorce or child custody case and help you focus your time and energy on those issues which are most important to you and your family. Time is a resource that we all know is impossible to get more of. The day has 24 hours, and we need to sleep for part of it. The people who fare best in divorce and child custody cases are those who can maximize their time and be the most efficient.
If you are looking for a reason to hire a lawyer for your family law case, why not start right there? The attorneys at the Law Office of Bryan Fagan know how you walk with you through a family law case. We can get your documents filed, set up mediation, prepare for temporary order hearings, respond to discovery, and ultimately prepare for a trial if necessary. In between, we will seek out opposing counsel and engage in negotiations with him or her. There is no "downtime" in a family law case as far as our attorneys are concerned. We want to use every possible opportunity to see the progress that can be made in advancing your interests. We aren't nasty or unethical, but we are aggressive and accountable to you. When you hire our office to represent you in a family law case, we problem-solve with you and seek out practical solutions to the problems that are most important to you.
A free-of-charge consultation with one of our experienced family law attorneys is available to you six days a week. We have three Houston area locations- in Kingwood, Humble, and Houston. The purpose of having three offices is to make sure that you and the rest of our neighbors in southeast Texas have a location close to your home or place of business where you can come in for a low-stress consultation to learn more about Texas family law. Reading through blog posts like this is a good start on your journey towards a resolution to your family law matter but taking things a step further and speaking to an attorney is really where you can make a difference in your life and that of your children.
What are the issues that matter most in Texas child custody cases?
Every child custody case in Texas is approached on a case-by-case basis by the judge. Bear in mind, also, that most family law cases settle before a hearing or trial. However, for today's blog post, we are going to assume that you and your spouse or co-parent were unable to settle your case successfully. As a result, you now need to know what the most important factors are in a child custody case from a judge's perspective. How would a judge approach the major issues in your case and what would he or she look for when making decisions based on the best interests of your child?
The best interest of the child is a legal standard that is applied to any family law case involving minor children. A judge, just like you and your co-parent, is tasked with making decisions that are in the best interests of your children. The best interests of anyone are a subjective standard, without a doubt. However, you and your co-parent can make decisions based on the best interests of your child in most situations. However, once you open your lives up to a family court and are unable to decide matters yourself the burden of making decisions for your children shifts to a family court judge. On the one hand, this is what a judge does- judges things and people to make decisions on their behalf.
On the other hand, you are asking a stranger to make determinations on behalf of your children. This can be an intimidating prospect, to say the least. In a perfect world, you and your spouse would be able to make the final calls on issues related to your child. However, since we don't live in a perfect world, we will have to make do with the circumstances of your case and your life as they currently sit.
Remember, also, that these are factors or issues that a judge may focus most of their attention on. However, that does not mean that the judge has anything that he or she must abide by. There are factors outlined in prior Texas family law cases that have been appealed through the Texas Supreme Court that gives "suggestions" or "recommended" factors to consider for family court judges when making decisions on behalf of a child. However, this is not a situation where the judge would need to necessarily follow these or any factors precisely. The judge will use their own experiences, knowledge of the law and many of these factors or issues to make decisions regarding what is in the best interests of your child. Of course, the circumstances of your case will be the backdrop to all these factors and will need to be examined closely by you and your lawyer to further gauge how a judge may end up ruling on any particular subject related to your child.
The information that is included in this blog post is just that information. We are not giving anyone legal advice here. If you would like to speak with one of the attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, please contact us today. We can clarify any information contained in this blog post and then provide information about what it means to hire our office to represent you in a family law case. You can take that information and then decide for yourself whether you would like to have an attorney in your case.
The best interests of the child
When two parents cannot agree on what is in the best interests of their child during a custody case then that responsibility falls to the family court judge. Decisions regarding child support, custody, conservatorship, possession, visitation and the other issues that come up in a child custody case will all be relevant here. When parents cannot agree on which of them should be named as the primary conservator of children then that will be an additional focus of a family court judge. What will serve your child will now and the in future can be a difficult question to answer but the judge will have to decide on that. Their emotional, physical, educational, and medical needs all play a part in the best interest determination of the judge.
Can you work together with your co-parent?
Nobody is going to ask you and your co-parent to be best friends after a divorce or child custody case. For most people going through a custody or divorce case that simply is not realistic. However, a judge will look at your history of parenting together to make determinations in your child custody case. If you are the parent who tries to be a bridge builder then you are more likely to be awarded the custody setup that you desire as far as rights, duties, and time with your child. However, if the evidence shows that you are constantly undermining your co-parent to alienate your child from him then you are unlikely to receive the child custody outcome that you desire. Working with your co-parent means setting aside your differences with him or her to focus on the best interests of your child. Sometimes that means putting your ego aside and doing what you know is best even if it does not make you especially happy.
What has your role been as a parent in the life of your child to this point?
A judge cannot predict the future, but he or she can use the past as a guide when making decisions for your child within a child custody case. How you and your co-parent have interacted in the past not only with one another but with your child will play a huge role in determining how custody issues are decided in your case. If you have been the parent who has handled most of the work associated with raising the child, then it is likely that you will continue in that role after the court issues its orders. In some cases, you and your co-parent would have split the parenting responsibilities somewhat evenly with one another. If that is the case, then you can expect a parenting plan that works to implement this type of arrangement.
In some cases, I have seen parents try to make up for the lost time by doing everything they can to be the "perfect" parent once the case has started. This parent may have been an absentee parent for most of their child's life but now that a family court judge is overseeing things the parent tries their best to act like the parent of the year. This is not something that most family court judges will be fooled by. The entirety of your child's life will be examined, and you will be evaluated on that scale- not based on how you have interacted with your child since the family law case began.
Stability and consistency
Stability and consistency are important to a child during their formative years. Changing up your child's living arrangements, school schedule, and other habits can be tough for a child to overcome- especially when those changes come abruptly. As a result, the judge in your case will seek to issue child custody orders that coincide as best as possible with their schedule and lives now so long as there are no problems in their day-to-day life. This means that if you are the parent who has been the primary caretaker of the child to this point then it is likely that you would be able to continue in that role.
This is an important factor to consider especially for fathers. Many fathers walk into a family law case and expect that a court must favor mothers over fathers when it comes to custody issues. Indeed, mothers oftentimes are named as the primary conservator of a child after a family law case, but it is not because she is the mother or a woman. Rather, the judge will base their decisions on the history that each parent has played in the lives of the children. If you have not been the primary caretaker of the kids, then you should not expect to be named as the primary caretaker of the children after a family law case. This means that you need to adjust your expectations for your case as a result. Giving up on your goals is not what we are talking about here, but you should be realistic about your goals based on the factors that we have discussed here today.
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 as well as about how your family's circumstances may be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody case.