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. I 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 the law before they answer.
Full custody is not a legal term, but the point the person is trying to communicate is clear- they 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 mind as to why you want "full custody" of your child. Maybe your child's other parent is unreliable and neglectful in their 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.
Often, though, one parent will attempt to scare the other by telling them they plan to file a lawsuit to win full custody of the child and limit the access that the other parent has to their child. At that point, the parent who made the complete 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 they never existed before. Other folks merely wish to restrict the amount their child has to visit the other parent.
Regardless, you should know that it is infrequent 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 them, that is placing a tremendous amount of responsibility on your shoulders while eliminating a source of income and stability for the child. Making threats to take a child away from a parent potentially is usually a recipe for disaster- or at least a lengthy, drawn-out lawsuit.
Terminating the rights of a parent in Texas is brutal.
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 talk to each other in ways that probably were not appropriate or warranted in retrospect. With that said, even though your emotions can get the best of you when it comes to your child's well-being, a termination lawsuit in the Texas family courts is not based on how badly you want to see someone's rights be terminated.
Instead, 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 to meet one of those standards but much more challenging 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 the well being of the child is in danger.
While these types of offenses should not surprise you, what may be surprising is learning that the crime that the other parent crime 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 if 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 work with them directly to remedy the issue- a path that I would highly suggest.
Suppose you are concerned about the well-being of your child. In that case, it is much simpler to bring a modification or enforcement action before a judge. You are asking the judge to modify a prior order based on a substantial change in circumstances or enforce the order's terms after the other parent has violated them. Legal fees for this 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 essential to speak with one of our Spring, TX Child Custody Lawyers right away to protect your rights.
Our Child Custody lawyers in Spring, TX, are skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact the 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 Custody cases 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.