If you were to ask yourself what a judge thinks is important when it comes to your child custody case, what would you say? Do you think that the relationship between you and your child is important to her? What about your ability to put aside your differences and raise your child with your soon-to-be ex-spouse? Do you think the shortcomings that you have as far as parenting skills are concerned would be relevant?
Based on my experience in having represented many families who have gone through difficult child custody circumstances, I believe all of those questions I listed above are relevant to a discussion on this subject. The fact is that if a judge is having to decide what is in the best interests of your child, that judge will have to look to your abilities to successfully parent your child now and into the future. The nature of your relationship with your child will also be relevant as well as your history of successes and difficulties involved in that relationship.
We spend a great deal of time on this blog discussing your relevant issues regarding family law in Texas. However, I would like to take a short break from that type of blog post to discuss with you some advice that is relevant to your child custody case- at least I think it is relevant. If you have spent any amount of time wondering how a judge can assess the nature of your relationship with your child, then today’s blog post is for you. The attorneys and staff with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan invite you to spend some time with us today discussing how your role as a parent will impact your child custody case.
How your own emotions will play a role in this child custody case
We often consider the emotions and grief of the children going through a child custody case to be the most important when it comes to an analysis of the facts and circumstances. I’m sure that you would agree with me that you care a lot more about the emotional well-being of your children than you care about your own. With that said, your well-being and any feelings of grief or sadness that you have been experiencing are certainly relevant as well.
The emotions that you experience will probably change a great deal from the day that your case was filed. You may be aware of the range of emotions that people experience when loved ones are in failing health and headed towards their eternal reward. Anger, denial, grief, acceptance, guilt, and bargaining are the steps that many people go through as far as processing the likely death of a loved one. While the emotions associated with a child custody case may not be the same, they are similar enough that it is not completely unreasonable to make a comparison between the two situations.
Given that much of your identity was likely wrapped up in the relationship that you are now getting out of, there is little doubt as to why you are going through this sort of emotional evolution. Losing your life partner (for reasons you may not have any control over) can be similar to losing a family member. For years and years, you were that person’s spouse, and now you find yourself looking at him or her as a stranger and being referred to in unflattering and unfamiliar ways by that person as well.
Take time to make decisions regarding what to do with yourself and your family in the immediate period after your case begins. Hiring an attorney should be the first thing that you do but after that, you should take some time to think about what is best for you and your family. One of the benefits of you hiring an attorney is that you now have a built-in confidant and source of advice for not only legal matters but personal ones as well. Remember that everything you say to your attorney- in any regard- is confidential. Use your attorney as a resource to see how you can respond to your life’s circumstances with confidence.
Life decisions will need to be made by you, but you don't have to make them all quickly. I would probably recommend that you take some time to plan with your attorney on what you should do as far as strategies for your case and options for your life after the case is over. Many people (understandably) invest so much time and energy into their family law case that they do not take the time necessary to figure out what their post-divorce life is going to look like. Ask your attorney what he or she has seen other people do as far as an approach to post-divorce life.
Your emotions will impact your parenting during a child custody case
I have not seen one example of a parent who was completely able to separate themselves from their emotions when it came to parenting children during a highly contested child custody case. When your brain shifts into survival mode you can become distracted and overwhelmed very easily by the circumstances of your personal life and your family law case. Add onto that the burden of parenting a child who is also going through a tough time and you have a potentially combustible situation on your hands.
The judge in your case will be assessing you and your ability to parent through the lens of a person who is going through a great deal of personal trauma. I can tell you that I have never had a case in front of a judge who has not given some consideration to the difficult circumstances that both parties find themselves in. Do not assume that you will be the unlucky person to get the judge who is unsympathetic in this regard.
However, do not assume that just because your judge is sympathetic and patient with you and your spouse does not mean that he or she will allow you to turn your case into a back and forth of arguments between you and your spouse as to who is to blame for your family’s problems. Many child custody cases indeed devolve into petty fights and mud-slinging. Most judges will not allow that behavior in the courtroom. The parent who can free him or herself from this mindset and show a judge that their primary concern is the well-being of their child is the likeliest to come ahead in the final decisions made by the judge.
How a judge can view your child’s level of attachment to you
The bottom line is that a judge will be concerned with how well you respond to the needs of your child, no matter their age. As your children grow up, they will attach to you in different ways and to different degrees. An infant is more attached to their parents than a teenager would be due to their need for survival purely being in the hands of you and their other parent. But for your care, your infant would not be able to survive.
Also important is your child’s attachment to their siblings. This will play an important role in the decision-making process that a judge will undertake. Many parents assume that a judge will split children between their parents if that is the preference of the children. As in, your son goes to live primarily with your husband while your daughter goes to live primarily with you. From my experience, however, this is usually not the case.
The reason for that is due to judge’s being keenly aware that stability and consistency are important to the emotional and physical development of your children. Your judge will likely have a legitimate concern that by splitting up your children between you and your spouse that she will be endangering whatever sense of stability that your child has left. Furthermore, judges understand that children (and even parents) often do not fully think out the ramifications of splitting children up between parents.
How your relationship may change with your child
It is not a stretch to say that your family law case can have a dramatic effect on the relationship between you and your child. Divorce, child custody, and family law cases, in general, are stressful and can tie up your time to an extent where you are not able to devote yourself to raising your children as you once had been able to. That is not a permanent condition, but for the temporary period of your family law case, it can be a profound change for you and your child.
I will say that some parents who have been involved in marriages where violence or other harmful behavior has been the result often feel liberated by the family law case and better able to parent their children freely. These parents can apply more attention to their families and not have to worry about the risks to their or their children’s well-being.
Another aspect of the parent-child dynamic that may be relevant in your situation is that your relationship with your child may shift from purely a child-parent one to a confidant-parent. If you feel that you are out of resources and unable to talk to anyone about your case you may view your child as a viable outlet to discuss your problems, frustrations, and observations about your case. Certainly, nobody would blame you for wanting an outlet to engage in behavior like this.
However, I would caution you before you choose to engage your child in a conversation like this. First and foremost, it is improper to put your child in the middle of a contested child custody case in this manner. He or she is not able to emotionally handle the information that you are making available to her. Even though your child may look like an adult she is a teenager and is not in a position to act as a "stand-in" adult to help you get through your divorce.
It is unhealthy to allow yourself to develop this sort of relationship with your child during your case. The behavior that you show your child during your case will inform your attitudes for the period after your case has concluded. Don’t allow yourself to harm your parent-child relationship when it is avoidable. Reach out early on to your attorney to discuss with him any available resources in your community as far as a person who can listen to your problems and provide feedback. Therapists, counselors, religious leaders, and even your attorney are more available to you than you might have realized.
Step-parents and post-divorce relationships will be the topic of tomorrow’s blog post
Please join us tomorrow as we will pick up where we left off in our discussion today by going over how post-divorce relationships can impact your children. Specifically, we will be approaching this topic from the vantage point of what is in the best interests of your child. Also, the role of dating and relationships during the divorce case from the perspective of your judge will be discussed as well.
In the meantime, if you have any questions about the material that we covered in our blog today please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. We offer free of charge consultation six days a week with our licensed family law attorneys. These consultations offer a great opportunity to have your questions answered and problems addressed by an experienced attorney who has worked with people just like you in prior cases. It is an honor to be able to serve our community in this way and we look forward to being able to assist you and your family. Thank you for your time and consideration.
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Other Articles you may be interested in regarding Custody
- Child Custody Basics for Texas Parents Revisited
- When Can a Minor Child Weigh in on Custody Decisions in Texas?
- Texas Child Custody Modifications
- Amicus Attorneys in Child Custody Disputes in Texas?
- Sole Managing Conservator in a Child Custody Case in Texas?
- Teens with Children, Child Custody and Child Support in Texas
- Child Custody and Divorce in Spring, TX
- Custody and Visitation Rights of Grandparents in Texas
- 11 Things You Must Know About Texas Child Custody
- 12 Texas Custody & Conservatorship Battle Tips
Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC | Houston, 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 Houston, TX Child CustodyLawyersright away to protect your rights.
Our child custody lawyers in Houston 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 Houston, 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.