If you are going through a difficult child custody or divorce case and are in need of practical solutions to the problems that you are facing, you have come to the right place. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan achieves successful results for our clients in part because we are able to arrive at practical solutions for our clients using negotiation and our experience in Texas family law.
In every family case, there is an issue that seems like it will be nearly impossible to solve. While it may be unavoidable that you will have tough circumstances in your case, it does not have to be true that those tough circumstances will invariably lead to a trial.
Parenting decisions related to the education, physical health and mental well-being of your child are among the most important rights that you will have in relation to your child. How those rights are allocated between you and your child's other parent can determine a great deal of how happy, productive and healthy your child will be in the future. Given the importance of this subject, I wanted to devote today's blog post to discuss how you can arrive at a desirable outcome and not have to see the inside of a courtroom in order to do so.
We touched on this briefly in yesterday’s blog post but I think that it bears repeating today. Parents in Texas family law cases no longer have to assign the right to designate the primary residence of their child to one parent in particular. It is possible for you and the other parent to agree that your child’s residence should be restricted to a specific geographic region, instead. This can go a long ways towards making you and your child’s other parent satisfied that neither of you will be a primary conservator of your child, it still opens up some questions about where your child will attend school.
Children in Texas are allowed to attend a school in the school district in which either of their parents resides. If this is the case and either you or the other parent are within your rights to have your child attend the schools zoned to your residence, what we need to figure out is how are the educational rights going to be divided between you and your child's other parent as far as decision making is concerned.
What school will your child be attending? How will it be possible for you and your child’s other parent, when you are not in agreement with one another, make educational decisions together on behalf of that child?
In many cases, the two parents will eventually agree that one of them should be able to make decisions regarding education exclusively. The parent who holds this right would have to seek out the counsel and opinion of the other parent but would not be bound in any way by those opinions. If this option is not chosen, what can you all do to avoid stalemates when there is a disagreement on a particular issue?
In the search for a tie-breaker, a therapist, counselor or other trusted individual is oftentimes sought to fill this role. The counselor could select the appropriate school for your child at the beginning of each school year. If not a therapist, a pediatrician or school administrator/official can fill these shoes if necessary.
Medical decisions that involve surgery
The term "invasive medical procedure" is the language that you will see used most often in reference to medical procedures that closely mirror surgeries. However, you and your child's other parent will need to figure out for yourselves what an invasive medical procedure is. Do dental procedures count as an invasive medical treatment? What about a tattoo? Look to the terms of your settlement agreement and ultimately the order in your case to see what you all define an invasive medical procedure as.
On a more practical level, you and your child's other parent will need to figure out how you are going to manage the scheduling of doctor's appointments. Can this be done without consulting with the other parent? Can both parents be present in the doctor's office during an appointment? Hopefully, surgeries and other invasive procedures are not that commonplace for your child, but a doctor's appointment probably will be.
Another major issue that you will need to get squared away is which doctor is going to be your child’s primary care physician. Once you figure this out you will need to decide how specialists are going to be considered and selected if the need to do so arises. What some families will do is agree to maintain primary care with a particular doctor for as long as practical. If that physician moves, retires or a parent wishes to change to another physician, that primary care doctor should be consulted and their choice for a replacement should be used.
A good rule of thumb for your attorney to use with you in this sort of setting is to try and have you think about this decision in the way that you would have you and your child's other parent never separated in the first place. How would you all have arrived at a solution in this setting if there were a disagreement between the two of you?
If you are like most families, you would sit down at the dinner table and discuss the issues once enough information has been collected to have an intelligent discussion. From there you would decide what arrangement, as far as parental decision making is concerned, would be the best for your child.
Psychological or psychiatric treatment- who calls the shots?
The same type of analysis can be done for psychiatric and psychological decisions that we just wrapped up in our previous section on invasive medical procedures. These are also very important rights that will need to be divided between yourself and the other parent to your child. Consider just how often medications are prescribed for children or the role that specific diagnoses (like ADD or ADHD) can have on your child in school and other places. You need to arrive at a parenting structure that benefits your child.
Consider why you and your child’s other parent are no longer in a relationship. Could it be that issues like this helped to drive you both apart from one another? It is probably not the case that one of these disagreements was the driving factor that led to the breakup of your relationship, but it could very well be that the disagreements on these sort of subject contributed heavily to the decision to end the relationship.
Drug use among children is a problem in our country. There are all sorts of facts and figures that I could cite here, but I think we would all agree that any amount of drug use by a child is too much. As such, if you find yourself in a position where your child is abusing drugs or alcohol it is extremely important that you be able to see to it that the child receives treatment. However, not every family can agree on how best to handle it.
Consider a situation where your child was caught smoking marijuana. Your ex-spouse may just think that it is a phase that he or she is going through. Nothing to be all that concerned with, certainly no need to send your child to a doctor or other medical professional for consultations. However, you may take the exact opposite point of view. You could see the situation as a cry for help from your child and a long-lasting problem that you have to nip in the bud while you still can. When you all hold such divergent views how can you possibly arrive at a solution that is acceptable to both of you?
What your attorney should be working to help you avoid is a situation where you seek expensive medical care for your child over the objection of your child’s other parent. Your child’s other parent could then reverse course a week later without consulting you. What you are then left with is a child who is not really receiving any consistent care for their problem(s), a bill for medical care that provided no benefit to anyone, and two upset parents. Sounds like a perfect storm for a family law case.
Your attorney should be working with you to answer a few, important questions. First of all, which parent should be making the decision on whether or not to have your child formally evaluated for a medical/psychological problem?
Once that decision is made you need to decide which parent is going to be the one to make a decision on what course of action to take on behalf of your child? What happens if it becomes obvious that it may be necessary to consider inpatient care for your child? If nothing else, a tie-breaker would be good to have inserted into the court order in the event that no conclusion can be reached on these subjects.
What about other rights not included in the Texas Family Code as necessary?
The three rights that we just finished discussing are the big-ticket items that you and your attorney will focus heavily on when it comes to negotiating final orders in your family law case. However, there are other rights that can be important as well that are not always discussed in family cases.
Depending on the circumstances of your case, some of these rights may be more important than others.
The right of first refusal
After a family law case, it is common for you to find a new relationship and for your child's other parent to do so the same. There is nothing a court can do about this, and there is nothing that you can do about it either. What I have seen in my years as a family law attorney is that parents tend to become pretty possessive with their time that they are allotted with their child. It doesn't matter if he or she cannot be present for an entire weekend, that time is his and he is going to take advantage of all of it.
Your child’s other parent probably would not agree with this assessment. If you have to work for half a weekend when your child is scheduled to be with you, then your child’s mother may think it doesn’t make sense to have you be in possession of your child for the entire time.
You may find out that the other parent will make an argument that just because you can designate another adult to pick your child up for a visitation session, that doesn’t give you the right to designate that same person to be present with your child during a period of possession awarded to you. That right, it may be argued, is not transferable.
What can you and your attorney do to overcome this sort of argument? Are you doomed to have to sort this issue out in court? Stay tuned to our blog post tomorrow and we will pick up where we left off today.
Do you have questions regarding family law issues in Texas? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
The attorneys and staff of the Law Office of Bryan Fagan would like to thank you for spending time with us today here on our blog. We hope that today’s material has been both interesting and informative. If you have any questions about the content of today’s blog then I would recommend that you contact our office today. We offer free of charge consultations six days a week where one of our licensed family law attorneys can address your questions and provide direct feedback to you.
We take a lot of pride in being able to represent our neighbors in the family courts of southeast Texas. Our objective is to always strive to provide the best representation for our clients as possible. We do this by putting your interests as a client ahead of ours in everything that we do. Please call us today so that we can discuss how we can help you and your family.
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- Husband Not the Father, what do I do in a Texas Divorce?
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Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC | Spring Divorce Lawyers
The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding divorce, it's important to speak with one of our Spring, TX Divorce Lawyers right away to protect your rights.
Our divorce lawyers 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 Divorce cases in Spring, Texas, Cypress, Spring, 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.