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Child Custody

Look at this time as an adventure and opportunity of trying to improve your parenting skills in order to improve the quality of the relationship you have with your children. Your children simply can't lose in an effort such as this. 


1. Conservatorship

Conservatorship is the term used in Texas to designate the division of parental rights, privileges, powers and duties. Joint managing conservators may share all rights or may share some rights and retain others exclusively. By law, it is now presumed that the parents should be named joint managing conservators unless good cause is shown. Because of this presumption, this handbook will only address joint managing conservatorship in detail.In those extreme circumstances which warrant a sole managing/possessory conservatorship arrangement, the sole managing conservator (the "custodial" parent) is the person who is granted all of the rights, privileges, powers and duties of a parent. The possessory conservator (the "noncustodial" parent) has only limited parental rights when he or she has actual possession of the children. There may be some instances when a non-parent may be appointed as a sole managing conservator or possessory conservator, although this rarely occurs in a divorce case. When it does occur, one or more of the grandparents of the children may be appointed as an additional possessory conservator. In addition, there may be more than one possessory conservator with specific rights to possession of the children at certain times.

2. The Court Must Determine the Rights and Duties of Each Parent

In a decree or order appointing them joint managing conservators, the parent rights may be divided however the parties agree or the court determines: they can retain all rights and exercise them jointly, or they can apportion more to one parent than the other. The exception to this is the domicile of the child or children. The order naming joint managing conservators must either fix the county of residence of the children until and unless altered by further court order, or give one of the conservators the right to determine the domicile. The courts also like to allow the primary caretaker to have the overriding say the selection of schools, physicians and the right to direct the moral and religious training of the child or children, after appropriate notice to and/or discussion with the non-custodial conservator.

3. Things are a-Changin'

Prior to 1974, Texas had followed the "tender years" doctrine, in which children of tender years (up to seven or eight years old) should be with their mother. It was accepted that the mother was a better person to care for, teach and guide children of tender years. In 1974 the law specifically directed that the decision as to which parent should have custody of the children should be made without regard to the sex of the parent seeking custody. Although the "tender years" doctrine lingers to some degree, the family district courts of Tarrant County show that there has been a marked change in the attitude of judges towards the custody of children. Each party can expect to be treated fairly. After all, in over 50% of families in the United States, both the mother and father work. In situations where both parents work, the father should be able to do as good of a job parenting the children as the mother since he would have had to develop the same skills and would have had to make similar arrangements for the children to be taken care of during periods when he was working.

4. The Court Will Establish a Possession Schedule for Each Party

In addition to setting out the parental rights of each party, the order will set out each parent's right to possession of the children at different times. Joint managing conservatorship does not mean that the children will divide their time equally between each parent. Many times a joint managing conservatorship can provide that one of the parents has the right to possession of the children most of the time, with the other parent having various weekends and alternating holidays.

5. The Best Interest of Your Children

The law requires that the best interest of the children should be the determining factor in assessing which parent should be named a child's primary conservator. Some of the factors that should be considered are as follows:(A) the desires of the child;
(B) the emotional and physical needs of the child now and in the future;
(C) the emotional and physical danger to the child now and in the future;
(D) the parental abilities of the individual seeking custody;
(E) the programs available to assist these individuals in promoting the best interest of the child;
(F) the plans for the child by these individuals or by the agency seeking custody;
(G) the stability of the home or proposed placement;
(H) the acts or omissions of the parent which may indicate that the existing parent-child relationship is not a proper one;
(I) any excuse for the acts or omissions of the parent;
(J) the amount of time a parent has spent and currently spends with the child. The Texas Family Code provides that the court, upon application, shall confer with any child 12 years of age or older and shall consider their desires. Even so, the child's desires do not affect the discretionary power of the court. The decision of the court will still be based on the welfare of the children, which is of paramount importance.

6. Assessing Your Motives

The most important question to consider is: Why do you want primary custody of your children? All sorts of reasons may be involved, and often you may not understand exactly why you want custody. If your spouse or ex-spouse has decided that a divorce or change in custody is necessary and assumes he or she will have custody, you might feel hurt and resentful by this. In this particular situation, you may want the children because they represent a means of revenge and an opportunity to punish your spouse or ex-spouse. That is, of course, a poor motive for seeking custody of your children. Alternatively, you may think you really are the better parent and can provide the children with more of what they need than your spouse or ex-spouse. The key to success in this type of case is simply hard work. You are asking the attorney to become a partner with you in this venture. You are asking for emotional commitment, a physical commitment and a time commitment to a demanding case. If your motives are questionable and your commitment is not complete, we will be reluctant to become a part of the effort to seek the primary conservatorship of your children.

7. Parenting is an Extremely Difficult Full Time Job

If your lawyer finds that you are not a competent, qualified parent, she may not remain as your attorney. If, in that case, there are compelling reasons why the other parent is not a good alternative, your lawyer may stay in your case with the understanding that you cooperate and follow our instructions to improve your parenting skills. In this way, we can make a presentation to the court which gives you a chance to be appointed the primary conservator of the children. Your children can only benefit. Take time to consider that primary conservatorship of one, two, or three children is an enormous responsibility. It is much easier to visit your children every other weekend than to see your children on a day-to-day basis, feed them, clean them, be with them when they're sick, nudge them about their grades, have the economic responsibility of their care, maintain the house, as well as, perhaps, holding down a full time job. It is neither an easy job nor a small one. It's a job you really have to want.

8. Create a Win-Win Situation for Your Children

If you have received temporary primary conservatorship and are living in the house with the children, you must use this precious time prior to trial to show your skills as a loving, concerned parent so that the court will be more inclined to continue this arrangement on a permanent basis. If, after taking over the responsibility of the children for a period of time, you make the determination that primary custody is more difficult than you anticipated, then your spouse may be the appropriate parent for permanent custody.Keep in mind, there is nothing wrong with discovering you should not be the primary conservator. There is certainly nothing wrong with admitting you were wrong as long as you love your children and want the very best for them. Why spend thousands of dollars in a custody fight that you cannot win or that you should not win, even if you could? That money would be better spent for the benefit of the children. You must be honest with your attorney, and your attorney must be honest with you. If you decide somewhere along the line you do not want to pursue this fight, you must tell us. Correspondingly, if there's a time when we think that you do not have a chance to succeed, we promise to tell you.- See more at: http://www.divorcemag.com/articles/child-custody-is-a-custody-battle-best-for-your-children#sthash.E4OOuEAQ.dpuf 

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