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What does a business owner need to know about child custody in Texas?

Opening a small business means taking on a certain degree of risk. Nobody knows the future. That means that you won't necessarily know if the business will be successful or a flop. Any entrepreneur reading this blog post can tell me the statistics around the percentage of restaurants, clothing stores, and lawn care businesses that fail within a year. If you work in a specific area of the economy, then you probably know the likelihood of success or failure that you are embarking upon. 

That is what separates you as an entrepreneur from the rest of us. The ability to take on risk, manage it, and then serve customers and clients is a balancing act that not many can pull off. Having the desire to do so is one thing. Having the ability and dedication to doing so is an entirely different subject altogether. You have to be intentional, develop a plan, and then execute despite adversity to be a success in the world of business. 

That sounds a lot like what you need to be a success in a child custody case. Whether that child custody case stems from a divorce or is a part of an independent child custody case, you need to be able to prepare for the child custody case just as diligently as you did the opening of your business. That may mean approaching the case with an eye toward detail but also with a willingness to reach out for help. 

The importance of having representation in a child custody case

People will often ask the attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan whether hiring an attorney is even worth it for a divorce or child custody case. My response would be that it all depends on how comfortable you are with risk. We know that you must have some degree of comfort in taking on risks if you are a business owner. However, the risk that you are taking on regarding your children is different than what you may be used to taking on as a business owner. 

While you may be able to close up one business and open up another, the same cannot be said of your relationship with your kids. If someone were to go wrong in the child custody case and you would not be able to win the possession time, conservatorship orders, or child support that you thought you needed it is no sure thing that you can ever get another bite at the apple. Court orders are pretty clear- do what it says in the orders or face the consequences. 

Going back to court to modify a court order is no picnic, either. Not only do you have to take away more time from your life and business to do so but the chances of modifying a court order are not as good as you may think. Judges do not want to rock the apple cart any more than is necessary for conjunction with family court orders. Once your child has been able to live under court orders for an extended period judges are typically hesitant to overturn those orders unless you provide him or her with a very good reason to do so. Specifically, you would have to be able to show that a “material and substantial change” has occurred in your life, your co-parents, or your children to pull off the modification. This is a high bar to clear and one that at the very least will eat up a lot of your time. 

The better route to take in this regard is to consider the child custody case that you are currently engaged in to be your one bite at the apple. To take the best bite, you can manage I think it is important for you to have a plan in place when it comes to how to establish the child custody orders that you believe are in the best interests of your child. While your circumstances may be unique to you and your family, your need for an experienced family law attorney to help represent you is not. 

Thousands of your southeast Texas neighbors have come to rely on the attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan to help them manage their family law cases. We are not a law firm that does the minimum and collects our fees. Rather, we take a personal interest in every case that we handle on behalf of our fellow Texans. When a parent hires us they know that our attorneys will be ethical, responsive, and intentional about how we engage in representation. Do not confuse us with the slick-talking lawyer who is all hat and no cattle. We let our results do the talking for us. 

If you are swamped with the responsibilities of your business but are staring down a child custody case in your new future, please reach out to the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys are here to assist you. First, we can offer you a free-of-charge consultation with one of our licensed family law attorneys. These consultations are convenient because we have three Houston area locations as well as phone/video options to choose from. Whatever works best for you, we are here for you. 

Next, if you decide to hire one of our attorneys, we will be completely transparent about how our attorneys bill you as a client, how payment works with our office and what it takes to be successful in a child custody case. We place communication at the top of our list of priorities with our clients. We will get to know you as a client, and you will get to know our office. From there, trust develops, and we can be the advocate that you need. Reach out to us today and we can arrange for you to sit down with one of our attorneys to discuss your case. 

In the meantime, today’s blog post will focus on what you need to think about as an entrepreneur who is going through a child custody case. Without a doubt, you have a lot on your mind right now. We want to help you focus your attention on a few areas that can be of great importance to you and your children during a custody case. If you have questions about any subject matter that we discuss in today’s blog post, please give the Law Office of Bryan Fagan a call today. 

More time in your business means more time away from your family

Almost across-the-board business owners that are just starting will tell us that their biggest concern about starting a business is the time away from their family. Your relationship with your children and spouse may be a casualty in the battle to start and maintain a small business. While you may do your best to manage the business and the family on equal footing it is also likely that you found out that this is harder than it seemed. With a great deal of your money also going towards the business that means fewer resources to be spent at home on your family. Less time and less money to spend on family is usually a recipe for a tough family life. 

If you are finding yourself staring down a divorce or child custody case you need to be able to focus on what will make your case different from a parent who has a traditional, 9-5 job. Whereas another parent has probably spent a consistent amount of time with their children over the years it is unlikely that you have been able to consider the amount of time that you may have devoted to your business. If you are in the start-up phase of the business, then it is even more likely that you have seen a decrease in the amount of time that you have been able to spend with your child recently. 

Another consideration is that your children are soon going to have to start splitting time between you and your co-parent. It was easier to figure all this out before when you and your child’s other parent were able to split time with your children when you lived in the same house. Living apart means coordinating schedules for yourselves and quite possibly for your children, as well. It was never a situation where you didn’t want to spend time with your kids. However, it was just that in a certain season of your life you had to devote a certain amount of time to building your business. Even though that season of your life may be changing it could be a situation where you still never regain that time moving forward. 

Having an atypical work schedule will make planning out a custody and possession schedule more challenging than for other families. If you have sporadic weekends where you are going to have to work most of the weekend this could cut into your opportunities to spend time with your children. On top of that, there are no guarantees that your co-parent will be willing to work with you on accommodating your schedule. If the two of you have a good relationship, then that is one thing. However, likely, the two of you don't see eye to eye on several subjects considering that you are about to get into a divorce or child custody case. 

What has your history of parenting been like?

One of the major ways that a court will project into the future how you will fare as a parent is to consider your history being a dad or mom. Again, since you are a small business owner you probably have not been able to spend as much time at home as you would have liked over the years. That doesn't make you a bad parent or an absentee parent, but it does put you in a position where you have ceded a great deal of time you might have ordinarily spent with your child to your co-parent. He or she has been the parent who took your children to football games, church, and school and helped with homework. Doctor's visits, dinner, and the list go on and on. While starting a business may be a noble pursuit ultimately done in part to benefit your children, the fact remains that the success of your business has likely come at the expense of parenting time with your children.

In Texas, a joint managing conservatorship is the default setting for parents like yourself and your co-parent when you are going through a divorce or child custody case. Joint managing conservators share parenting time as well as the rights and duties of parenting. It is presumed that it is in the best interests of a child for both of his parents to have an active and involved role in the child's life. So, if you have played some role in your child’s life to this stage it is likely that you will still be able to be named as a joint managing conservator.

However, even in splitting time with children, a court needs to name a managing conservator of the children. This managing conservator lives with the children for most of the year and has the primary decision-making capabilities in most cases. If your history as a parent shows that you have ceded time and decision-making responsibilities to your co-parent then that will likely impact how a judge hands down custody and conservatorship rights in a potential trial.

What is the possession schedule for your child going to look like?

Do you expect that you will need to maintain irregular hours or travel a great deal in conjunction with your small business? This is another officer that a judge will look at when determining custody and conservatorship orders. Even if you have the best of intentions when it comes to your child a judge will not force a possession schedule that does not consider your need to travel. If you have traveled on most weekends for work, then this cuts into your possession schedule. Unless you have a definite plan in place to modify that schedule this will likely have an impact on your case moving forward. 

Even if you want to keep a 50/50 possession split of time with your children it is not feasible for you to do so if you plan on working 65 hours a week every week in your small business. Having your mother or father watch the kids on your weekend and even during the week while you work is not in the best interests of your children. That may not be fair, but the reality of the situation is that you cannot get everything you want in this situation. Having a small business and kids means making choices. 

You can try to modify the orders in the future- but beware

You can modify these orders in the future. People attempt to modify custody orders every single day in Texas family courts. However, you need to be prepared for the challenges that are associated with doing so. A material and substantial change in circumstances must be shown to modify custody orders. I could see a significant change in your work schedule is a material and substantial change. Whereas you may have been working 65 hours a week during your custody case initially, you may have now hired a couple of employees who can do much of the work for you. A work schedule where you go into the office 25 hours a week gives you a great deal more flexibility. 

In that type of situation, you can attempt to file a modification case to see if you can change conservatorship or custody orders. A judge will look at the present circumstances of your child, their future needs, and what you are seeking in changes to custody and conservatorship. If the changes you are proposing are in the best interests of the child, then you may be able to modify the orders. If not, the judge may change things a tad but would otherwise maintain the orders as they currently read. 

You need to be as present as possible for your children even when building up a business. If you can play an active and involved role in their life then you will be able to have memories with them and build a strong case for yourself in a child custody case. 

Questions about the material contained in today’s blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan

If you have any questions about the material contained in today's blog post, 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 in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are a great way to learn more about the world of Texas family law as well as about how your family's circumstances may be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody case.

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