Do you think that your circumstances are so unique that nobody else could know what you're going through? Are the problems of your family so unique that the one size fits all solutions that you've found all over the internet wouldn't work for you and your family? Are you frustrated that all the lawyers you've spoken to have given you cookie-cutter responses to the issues you have presented them?
I can’t blame you if you feel this way. The fact is that every family is unique- and your problems are too. Lawyers like to act like we have all the answers (fake it ‘til you make it) but the reality is that when you present your problems to an attorney you are putting the attorney on the spot to make assessments and present you with some analysis. That’s fine- it’s what the lawyer is there for. However, don’t be surprised if you hear that lawyer’s response as something similar to what the last guy/gal told you.
What I would like to do in today's blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan is go through some creative solutions to some problems that you may be facing in your family law case. Some of these problems are unique. Others are more common and run of the mill. If you see a solution that you like or that intrigues you, I would recommend you contact our office to set up a meeting with one of our experienced family law attorneys. This is the sort of creative and effective problem solving that you will get when you hire one of our attorneys to represent you and your family for a southeast Texas family law case.
What about parental rights and duties?
Ultimately, when you are trying to work through parental rights aspects of divorce and child custody cases, what you are trying to get to are the rights and duties that are inherent in parenting your child. The most fundamental aspects of the most fundamental institution in the family: that of raising children. It is already not an ideal situation that your children are in when you consider that their mom and dad are either no longer married and/or are going through a really tough time and cannot agree on the basics of co-parenting. What you are attempting to do (hopefully) is play damage control and prevent any future harm for your child.
Creative solutions come into play because if you cannot figure out a way to work around and through your disagreements, with your spouse, you are ensuring that you will find yourself inside of a family courtroom. In and of itself this is not so bad. Courtrooms are not scary places. The judge (probably) won't yell at you or your attorney. The judge will, however, not know you, your opposing party or your children all that well-even by the end of your case.
The judge will know what he knows based on the testimony presented in court as well as the documents introduced and accepted into the record. This will be a small portion of your family history and there will be a lot of important information that does not get included in the evidence that the judge considers. This happens in every family law case, in every courtroom in Texas. There is no way the judge can know all the important ins and outs of your family by the end of your trial or hearing.
In Texas, parents share custody of their children in most every case after the divorce or child custody case concludes. It is the rare case that one parent comes out of the case with all of the possession and custody rights associated with the children. It is far more likely that you will share possession and custody rights with your child's other parent. This is called Joint Managing Conservatorship.
That is where we need to start this discussion. Many people come into our office for a free of charge consultation, their hair on fire and ready to tell one of our lawyers how there is no way that he or she will accept that their child's other parent will be able to have any time to spend with their child after this case. That parent is neglectful/emotionally abusive/rude/nasty/etc. and as a result, should lose their parental rights or at least only be able to see their child a couple of times a year.
You may feel that way emotionally, but the reality is that parents share rights, duties and time of their children with the other parent. The assumption and presumption are that your child benefits from having a relationship with both of their parents. Absent evidence to the contrary (very strong evidence, at that) this is a presumption that will stand up in your case and result in shared custody, rights and duties.
Each parent will have rights and duties at all times as well as rights and duties that apply to the time that their child is with him or her. The decision making associated with your child after the divorce or child custody case is really what most people want to know about. The specific rights and duties are what parents like you want creative solutions to avoid costlier family law cases that can potentially damage the parent-child relationship.
What are the basic rights associated with being a parent in Texas
Before we go any further in today's blog post, I wanted to share with you the basics of what it means to be a parent in Texas- at least according to the Texas Family Code. First and probably most important you have the right to have your child. This means that you have the right to have your child with you for designated periods. If you have no court orders in place, those times could be between never and always. If you have a court order in place, that court order will set forth the periods that you can have your child.
Next, for many Texans, the ability to direct the moral and religious training of your child is critically important to the development of your child and your family. Under most court orders, you can direct the religious training of your child while he is in your possession and your child's other parent can do the same when your child is with them. This can create some friction, but as long as you are in physical possession of your child you can take your child to religious services and do anything else associated with your religion that does not break the law.
Along with being in physical possession of your child, the right to determine the primary residence of your child is maybe the most sought after and fought after right under the sun when it comes to Texas family law cases. Determining the primary residence of your child means that you can choose where your child lives- undoubtedly this will be with you. Next, you earn the right to determine where your child will attend school, the schedule of your child during the school week and the ability to receive child support. Finally, you will invariably get more time with your child throughout the year just because he or she will be in your home during the weeks of the nine-month school year.
Duties associated with parenting a child under a Texas family court order
The other side of the coin when it comes to raising a child is that there are a myriad of responsibilities, or duties as they are known in the law, that are related to raising that child. Broadly speaking you must care for your child, control your child's behavior and movement, protect your child from harm and discipline your child within reason. These are all broad rights that you share with your child's other parent. The best I can do, to sum up, these rights and duties are to tell you that these are the fundamentals of raising a child.
Part of the fundamentals of raising a child is to provide that child with the essentials of clothing, food, shelter, medical/dental care, and education. There is no set standard outlined in Texas Family Code as far as the type of food or shelter or education that your child has to receive. You must, however, put your child in a position to receive or be provided all of these things as a result of your parenting.
There is a list of other rights provided to you under the Texas Family Code that I am not going to spend a great deal of time discussing here. Those rights include the right to the services and earnings of your child, the right to consent to the marriage of your child, the right to consent to the enlistment of your child in the armed forces of the United States as well as the right to consent to the medical, dental and psychiatric care of your child (including surgical intervention).
Rights and duties can be exercised independently or by agreement with the other parent
The Texas Family Code provides that certain rights can be exercised by you independent of the other parent while others must be exercised only by joint agreement. When it comes to all of the rights and duties that are contained within a final order from a family law case, creative negotiation will allow for you to not have every right awarded to both you and your child’s other parent.
The right to receive information from your child’s school or doctor, the right to confer with the other parent before a decision is made regarding school, medical and overall welfare are made, the right to access medical and educational records of your child and the right to attend school functions are among the most important of these rights that can be held, exclusively, independently or held jointly with the other parent.
You may find yourself in a circumstance where it is not in your child's best interests to have your ex-spouse be able to consult with a dentist, doctor or teacher of your child. If the other parent has acted poorly or inappropriately to the point where the behavior substantially hurts your child, then he or she may not be able to consult with any of these people.
In your circumstances if the other parent is not trustworthy with money, has been abusive or neglectful of your child or has otherwise exhibited poor judgment then you need to speak to your lawyer about how to creatively limit the effect of those bad behaviors on the well-being of your child. Your attorney will need to be able to work with you to negotiate to preserve as much of the power to make decisions in you possible. If no settlement can be reached, their job will be to present sufficient evidence to a judge that will allow for you to be awarded the exclusive right to do these things.
Where do most family law cases begin to break down in terms of negotiation?
The goal of any family law attorney should be to counsel and provide insight about their client's legal matter to help guide that client towards a result that is most beneficial to him or her. That can usually be accomplished best in a family law case by negotiating with your child’s other parent. What happens when negotiation becomes impossible will be where we pick up this topic in tomorrow’s blog post.
Questions about family law issues in Texas? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
If you have any questions about the material that we shared with you today, 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 here in our office. These consultations are a great opportunity for you and your family to learn more about your circumstances and to receive direct feedback from one of our attorneys.
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Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC | Houston, Texas 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 Houston, TX Divorce Lawyers right away to protect your rights.
Our divorce lawyers in Houston 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 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.