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Full Custody: What it means to you and what it can mean for your child custody case

Many, many potential clients of the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC have walked into a free of charge consultation with me and have let me know that their number one goal for their divorce or child custody case is to win “full custody” of their child. To be fair, I do always ask what a person’s goal is by pursuing a lawsuit because I want to know their mindset. I don’t tell them anything about they law before he or she answers.

Full custody, however, is not a legal term but the point the person is trying to communicate is clear- he or she would like more time with their child than the other parent gets.

Intimidation is the source for pursuing full custody much of the time

I will grant you that many people, perhaps you can be included in this group, have legitimate reasons in your own mind as to why you want “full custody” of your child. Maybe your child’s other parent is unreliable and neglectful in his or her parenting. It could be that your child or yourself have suffered abuse at their hands. I’m not diminishing your position if that is indeed the case.

A lot of time, though, one parent will attempt to scare the other by telling him or her they their plan is to file a lawsuit in order to win full custody of the child and to limit the access that the other parent has to their child. At that point the parent who made the full custody threat will list out some demands and the threatened parent will either give in or risk a child custody lawsuit being filed. Many people outright want to have the other parent’s rights terminated, as if he or she never existed before. Other folks merely want to restrict the amount with which their child has to visit the other parent.

Regardless, you should know that it is very, very rare for a parent’s parental rights to be terminated by a Texas court. When we talk about physical possession of your child and the ability to make decisions for him or her that is placing a tremendous amount of responsibility on your shoulders while eliminating a source of income and stability for the child as well. Making threats to potentially take a child away from a parent is usually a recipe for disaster- or at least a long, drawn out lawsuit.

Terminating the rights of a parent in Texas is difficult

If you’ve ever spoken to your child’s other parent out of frustration or anger then you can count yourself among a large group of persons. Even married parents speak to each other in ways that in retrospect probably was not appropriate or warranted. With that said, even though your emotions can get the best of you when it comes to the well being of your child, a termination lawsuit in the Texas family courts is not based on how badly you want to see someone’s rights be terminated.

Rather, the law in Texas holds that a court must find that there is sufficient evidence to terminate the parent’s rights and that doing so is in the best interest of your child. It is somewhat easy by comparison to meet one of those standards but much more difficult to meet both.

Reasons why termination may be allowed

The Texas Family Code in section 161.001(b) sets forth the situations that warrant the involuntary termination of a parent’s parental rights. The laundry list includes voluntary acts like leaving the child with another person with no intent to return (abandonment), failing to support the child for six months continuously, committing certain crimes such as murder or simply placing the child in a situation where it the well being of the child is in danger.

While these type of offenses should not surprise you, what may be surprising is learning that the offense that the other parent has committed against you or your child is not included in that list. Failing to pick the child up for weekend visitation on time, making snide remarks about you in front of your child and not always paying your child support on time are not included in the Family Code as reasons why parental rights could be terminated.

Be prepared to present evidence in the event you petition a court for parental rights termination

The bottom line is that asking a court to terminate the parental rights of your child’s other parent is a big deal. While you are spending time and energy brooding over a supposed slight or act of disrespect, the better avenue to go would be to consider where your child’s other parent is vulnerable to a lawsuit and to attempt to address that area. You can obviously work with him or her directly in an attempt to remedy the issue- a path that I would highly suggest.

If you are concerned about the well being of your child it is much simpler to bring a modification or enforcement action before a judge where you are asking the judge to modify a prior order based on a substantial change in circumstances or to enforce the terms of an order after they have been violated by the other parent. Legal fees for this sort of case would be much lower in most circumstances and your odds of success are much higher.

Questions about your child custody case? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC today

If you are considering a termination of parental rights case or any other child custody matter please contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC today. Our licensed family law attorneys are available six days a week to discuss your case with you in a free of charge consultation. We represent clients across southeast Texas and would be honored to sit with you and discuss your questions and concerns.


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Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC | Spring, Texas Child Custody Lawyers

The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding child custody, it's important to speak with one of our Spring, TX Child Custody Lawyers right away to protect your rights.

Our Child Custodylawyers in Spring 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 Child Custodycases in Spring, 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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