Asserting Your Rights When Establishing Child Custody in Texas

Child custody cases are some of the most impactful and important in all of family law. When you and your family are trying to figure out how to divide up rights, duties, and time with your children this can be an incredibly significant challenge. Not only do you have to consider the needs of your child first and foremost, but you also must think more about how you and your child’s other parent are going to work together to benefit your child. This can be much easier said than done. Working together with a parent that you are either going through a divorce with or have never been married to in the first place represents a significant amount of work that needs to be done between now and the end of your child custody case.

If your goal in the child custody case was to simply make it out on the other side without having lost too much money or too much time with your child you are making a huge mistake. This is your best chance to establish court orders that function well for your family in the long term. The last thing you want to do is waste this opportunity by not focusing on goals and trying to arrive at solutions that work best for you and your family. Overall, the degree of success that you and your family achieve in a family law case is determined in large part by the goals you set for yourself and your manner of achieving those goals.

 From our vantage point, here at the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, working with an attorney represents the most significant advantage that you can give yourself in the context of a child custody case. When the facts and circumstances of the case are not necessarily in your favor or the favor of your co-parent that means you must draw important distinctions between yourselves and creative ways. This is where working with an experienced family law attorney can come in handy. 

The attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan specialize in family law. We work on behalf of Texans every day in family courts across our state. Not only that, but we also know how to advocate for you and your rights both inside and outside the courtroom. For a free-of-charge consultation with one of our experienced family law attorneys please do not hesitate to contact our office today. We have what it takes to help walk you through what may prove to be one of the most difficult legal circumstances that you ever find yourself in.

What rights do you have in a child custody case?

Understanding your rights is a key part of any legal case. However, when you are trying to establish well-functioning and fair rights and duties in a child custody setting it is especially important that you are aware of the circumstances and facts of your case. The reason for this is that the rights you have in a child custody case as a parent are all dependent upon the circumstances of the case and how you present them. This is true both in a courtroom and in negotiations.

You should carefully examine your life, that of your co-parent, and most importantly that of your child as you begin a child custody case. Is your family in a good place, a bad place, or somewhere in between? I know that you may be assuming that every person who goes through a child custody case may be facing dire circumstances. The truth is that not everyone who goes through a family law case in this setting is facing the same type of circumstances. If your child is doing well in school, making friends, and participating in extracurricular activities you and your co-parent may want to hold on to your current setup as far as how your child is attending school and spending time with family. 

On the other hand, if your child is not doing well and you are dissatisfied with the amount of time that you spend with him or her then you may seek to change the circumstances for you and your family. In any event, you need to have a plan and you need to know what the rights are for a parent in your situation. Let’s start here. Mothers and fathers have equal rights and duties concerning their children in Texas. I think this bear is mentioning only because many parents, usually fathers, will come into a family law case presuming that mothers have a leg up in the case as far as being able to take on a large role in the life of their child after the family law case comes to an end.

Where does this come from? I think this is a legitimate question to ask because it is parents from all walks of life, all backgrounds, all income groups, and all parenting arrangements that hold this view. It is frequently the case that our attorneys must counsel fathers and mothers alike that fathers are at no explicit disadvantage when it comes to their rights as a parent in a Texas child custody case. It can be an incredible relief to fathers to learn that they have the same rights concerning their children as do mothers.

As a father, have you ever been told by your child’s mother that the outcome of the child custody case is going to be a foregone conclusion? That, no matter how hard you try or what your relationship is like with your children, you have no chance to be named as the primary conservator of your children? Or that the best you can hope for is a split custody circumstance? I’m willing to bet that many of you fathers have been told this exactly by your child’s mother.

Many times, this is done because the mother honestly believes that this is how a family law case winds up in Texas. On the other hand, you may also have been told this by your child’s mother for no other reason than she wants to intimidate you and cause you to not act as you should in terms of defending your rights and preserving them in a legal case like a childcare city matter. For that reason, you need to be especially sure that you are carefully inspecting your case and being diligent about representing your rights. At the end of the day, it is your child who will suffer if you fail to do so.

Your rights as a joint managing conservator

The law presumes that it is in the best interest of your child or you and your co-parent to be named as joint managing conservators. A conservator is a person who has legal rights and duties concerning another person. When it comes to you and your co-parent, the law wants to encourage an arrangement where both of you can spend as much time with your child as possible and care for your child in the best possible way. The way that the courts facilitate this is by naming both of you as joint managing conservators. When both of you are named as joint managing conservators this puts you in a position where you can spend time with your child, support your child financially, and care for your child even when you are not physically with him or her. 

At a minimum, you have to provide your child with an education, health insurance as well as medical care. Your child is obligated to go to school through a certain age. You are the main check against your child stopping their education too soon. As a result, you need to be able to ensure that your child attends school and does what is necessary to attain as high of an education as he or she is capable of. This does not mean you are obligated to pay for him or her to go to college necessarily but for the most part, this means being able to help your child see their way through high school.

You have a right in your childcare city case to be able to make arguments as to why you should be named as the managing conservator of your child. This simply means that you have the right to be able to present evidence in multiple forms to a court as to why you are the more appropriate parent to be the primary conservator. A primary conservator determines the primary residence of your child and has the right to receive child support. The specific visitation schedule and amount of child support that you would receive varies depending upon your circumstances. However, it is reasonable to expect that if you are named as primary conservator you are in the driver’s seat as far as spending more time with your child and receiving money monthly to care for him or her.

On the other hand, let’s say that you are not able to be named as the primary conservator of your child. The alternative arrangement is that you would be named as the possessory conservator. Even possessory conservators have rights as far as the ability to be an important part of your child’s life. For instance, even though you would not be able to be the parent who has the right to determine the primary residence of your child you would have the right to visitation with him or her. For many parents, this is a leg up from where you were as far as your time spent with your child before the family law case.

A specific visitation schedule will be laid out in your family law case. Each day of the year is accounted for in this schedule. You should do your best to understand the visitation schedule as best as possible. That way you and your co-parent can work together seamlessly to ensure that your child has a predictable and consistent schedule to look forward to as far as being able to spend time with both of his or her parents.

With these rights in mind, it is worthwhile to consider that the rights of your child take precedence over your rights. If you and your co-parent are unable to agree on a custody or conservatorship order, then that will be left up to a judge to decide. For the two of you, it can sometimes be a challenge to understand that what is in both of your best interests may not be in the child’s best interests. When you can understand this and can move forward to continue to work towards resolutions that are in your child’s best interests that is a key part of parenting. No matter how focused you are on protecting your rights, being able to look out for the best interests of your child is really what matters the most.

Child custody cases examined more closely

Child support is a topic in a Texas child custody case that always receives a great deal of attention. To be sure, parents and a child custody case have a lot to focus on. However, child custody almost always is one of those topics that catches people’s attention, and with good reason. There is something difficult for most families when it comes to managing the payment and receipt of child support. This is a touchy subject that carries with it emotional and financial consequences.

To begin with, if you are the parent who must pay child support you are not without your rights. First, you have a right to visitation with your child regardless of whether you are paying child support. The bottom line is that your co-parent cannot withhold time with your child from you just because you are not paying child support. We will assume that if you can pay child support you will do so. In that case, the reason why you would not be paying child support is due to you having lost your income or had some other kind of unfortunate event occur in your life. In that case, you should notify your co-parent of the circumstances you are going through but he or she does not have the right to withhold time with your children from you.

Next, consider that you also have a right to know where you stand with your child support payments. For this reason, the office of the attorney general has an online account where you can view your child support statements in real-time. That way you can know exactly how much you are one child support and what sort of details are in your case. It is not as if you’re co-parent holds all the cards when it comes to being able to ensure that child support has been paid. You can hold him or her accountable by knowing where you are in the process of paying child support.

As a parent who is receiving child support, you have a right to be paid child support on time and in full each month. This is probably the most cited reason why parents run into difficulty after a family law case. The simple truth is that it is difficult to always pay child support each month. With that said, it puts the parent who receives child support in a tough position when child support is not paid each month. That child support can be used to help pay for rent for your child, food, utilities, or clothing. 

With that said, if you are running into problems with the payment of child support consistently then you have options available to you. The main option available to you is to file an enforcement case against your co-parent. This enforcement case would bring to the court’s attention the violations of your child custody order and any details surrounding them. By doing so you can also request relief from the court such as back child support and penalties associated with each violation of the order.

The bottom line is that both parents have significant rights in a child custody setting. However, the difficulty in these situations is understanding what those rights are so that you are not taken advantage of. The attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan advocate on behalf of our clients in legal settings across the state of Texas each day. We thank you for joining us today on our blog and we hope to see you again tomorrow as we continue to post relevant and interesting 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 as well as about how your family circumstances may be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody case.

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