Child Custody Lawyer in Houston, Fighting to Help Our Clients Secure Rights to Their Children
When people envision having children, rarely do they imagine going through a custody battle with the child’s other parent. Unfortunately, this is an all too common occurrence in today’s world. One out of every four American children lives in a one-parent household — a rate nearly three times higher than in 1960. Unfortunately, these situations commonly lead to custodial disagreements and frequently result in drawn-out legal disputes. If you find yourself in such circumstances, a child custody lawyer in Houston may be able to help. In some cases, they can even assist you in reaching a beneficial solution for all involved.
At Von Dohlen Law Firm, we handle every child custody case as if it’s the most important we’ve ever taken on. Because we understand just how important this situation is to you. Family law is a complex area with many nuances, but with our law firm on your side, you’ll have experienced representation that can fight for the best interests of your child. In many instances, the judge decides custody disputes — but this won’t always have to be the case. Contact us today to schedule a consultation with a Houston child custody attorney. Von Dohlen Law Firm is ready to fight for you.
Who Has the Upper Hand in Texas Child Custody Cases?
Many people assume that one parent — typically the mother — has the upper hand in any custody battle. While this may have been true in the past, it’s not that simple anymore. In recent decades, the typical familial setup was a man working while the woman raised the children. This has changed significantly over the years — as more women are in the workforce and men spend more time with their children than ever before. While a judge may be more likely to grant the mother custody if she’s still breastfeeding — for obvious reasons — you’re unlikely to run into another situation where the mother immediately has the upper hand.
When you go to court over a child custody battle, the judge will consider all relevant information to decide what’s in the best interests of the involved children. They can take into account a parent’s home situation, legal issues, parenting skills, fitness as a parent, domestic violence accusations, geographical location, and even the child’s wishes. Unfortunately, there’s no real way to predict whether one parent will “win” out over the other. This is why it’s often beneficial for both parties involved to come to an agreement and create a parenting plan on their own. As long as an arrangement isn’t harmful to the child, it will typically be approved.
What Are the Differences in Legal Custody vs Physical Custody?
There are significant differences between legal custody and physical custody in Texas. Everything that happens in a child’s life going forward will be affected by these distinctions. Legal custody — known as conservatorship in Texas — dictates who gets to make major life decisions for the child. This can include issues related to education, healthcare, religion, and more. Texas courts typically want parents to share such decisions. That’s why a Joint Managing Conservatorship is common in a child custody case. However, a Sole Managing Conservatorship is possible — or certain decisions could be granted to only one parent.
In Texas, physical custody is known as possession and access. A standard possession order lays out the rules regarding time spent with a child — including whether supervised visitation is necessary — and who has the child for the majority of the time. Texas has specific rules in place dictating when a noncustodial parent (i.e., the parent who spends less time with the child) can have visitation. Of course, many individuals do not want the courts to take a one-size-fits-all solution to their custody agreement. That’s why working together is often the best approach. Contact our child custody attorney in Houston today to learn more.
Is There a True 50/50 Split of Custody Under Texas Law?
When it comes to conservatorship, there can theoretically be a 50/50 split between parents. This is particularly the case if the two can agree to work together. They can create their own parenting plan or have a Houston divorce attorney draw up an agreement for them. Even if they can’t agree on child custody issues, though, a judge will often still grant a 50/50 legal custody split. It’s typically believed that it’s in a child’s best interest to have both parents involved in making choices for them. Unfortunately, a 50/50 split for physical possession is much more difficult and a far less likely outcome if you go to court.
That’s because the Texas Family Code assumes that a child’s best interests are served by having one primary residence. The child’s primary residence is where they’ll spend most of their time. By definition, this means one parent will have their child for less time than the other. While you can try to achieve a 50/50 physical custody split on your own, you’ll still need to make sure the arrangement is beneficial for your child. Even if you agree on everything with your former partner, a judge is likely to refuse any agreement that attempts to achieve 50/50 physical custody to the detriment of the child.
Can a Father Get Custody or Visitation Without Being on the Birth Certificate?
It’s easy to get confused about visitation agreements, terms such as “joint managing conservators,” and other family law issues. Things can become even more confusing, however, if an individual isn’t on their child’s birth certificate. After all, how can you hope to achieve any rights if you’re not even listed as a parent? There are a few important things to recognize in such a situation. First, even being on the birth certificate doesn’t grant a parent rights if they didn’t give birth themselves. That’s because paternity is only assumed in Texas if two parents are married at the time of their child’s birth.
When a parent’s legal paternity has not been legally established, it’s the mother who has sole physical and legal custody over the child. This means questions regarding visitation issues, custody agreements, and other complications are often moot. Fortunately, a child custody lawyer in Houston can help you establish paternity. In some cases, a DNA test may not even be necessary. Once legal paternity is established, an unwed parent may gain the same rights as any other parent. In a perfect world, the parents would be able to agree on living arrangements and other issues once this process plays out.
Of course, an amicable agreement isn’t always possible. This is particularly the case in situations where parents are unwed. Things can also get complicated with issues regarding adoption and the legal rights of men who did not realize they were fathers. Put simply, family law in Texas can be complex even when you think your situation is straightforward. If you hope to spend time with your child and make important decisions for them (e.g., medical care, religion), then having an attorney on your side can prove invaluable. Contact Von Dohlen Law Firm today to learn how we can help.
Who Pays Child Support in Joint Custody Arrangements?
Child custody laws can be difficult to understand, but things can be much simpler when discussing child support. That’s because Texas has clear laws on how much support must be paid — and who must pay it. This is why support issues are often decided during a child custody hearing, but like custodial issues, parents can choose to create their own financial support agreement as long as it’s not detrimental to the child. If the two cannot come to an agreement, however, the court will typically require the noncustodial parent to make payments to the custodial guardian.
To better understand this, it’s important to look at the decision of the court on conservatorship and physical custody. If one parent is given the right to choose the child’s primary residence, that’s the custodial guardian who will receive child support. This is also true if one parent is given primary physical custody. Even when a Joint Managing Conservatorship order is in place, one parent will typically always spend more time with the child. This is the parent who will receive financial assistance. As with other family law issues, a judge will decide what’s in the child’s best interest if the parents can’t reach an agreement.
Do You Really Need Child Custody Lawyers?
At Von Dohlen Law Firm, our goal is to help people better understand their family law cases. As such, we answer a variety of questions during our initial consultations. One of the most common questions we hear pertains to whether legal representation is even necessary. After all, Texas doesn’t require parents to have an attorney to handle child custody issues. In addition, many common children and family law documents are readily available online free of charge. With such resources available, couldn’t you handle this on your own? Unfortunately, many parents learn the hard way that this isn’t a wise approach.
It’s important to remember that the common person simply doesn’t have as much experience as Houston child custody attorneys. Most people don’t understand the nuances of the law, and that’s because they don’t work within it on a frequent basis. If you decide to go through the litigation process to settle custody disputes, not having a lawyer can prove detrimental. That’s particularly true if your former partner has one of their own. Of course, it’s possible that you and your ex have already decided on a custody arrangement, visitation agreement, and parenting plan. Couldn’t you handle this on your own?
If you and your former partner can agree on major issues, you’re definitely ahead of the game. However, keep in mind that a judge will not approve a custody arrangement simply because you agreed to it. All agreements must take the best interests of the child into account. If a judge believes the arrangement fails in this respect, they simply won’t approve it. This could put you back at square one and draw out custodial issues longer than necessary. Even if you agree on everything, let our law office review your agreement and help make sure a judge will approve it. This will save you time and money in the long run.
Contact a Child Custody Lawyer in Houston Today for Help
Texas law is very clear on how custody issues should play out, but this doesn’t mean outcomes are always predictable. Every case is different, so it’s essential that you fully understand your situation and the best way forward. In many instances, it’s beneficial to completely avoid a child custody dispute by coming to an agreement with your former partner. Texas courts prefer when this happens as long as the arrangement is in the best interest of the child. Unfortunately, there will be times when it’s impossible to reach an understanding with the other parent. Regardless of the situation you find yourself in, however, family law attorneys in Texas may be able to help.
At Von Dohlen Law Firm, you’ll work with a legal professional that has years of experience in family law and in the Houston area. Whether you’re in the early stages of figuring out a custodial arrangement or need to seek a child custody modification, we can help. The important thing to remember is that a court order will always treat the needs of the child as a priority. This is true whether both parents agree on custody or the judge has to decide on their own. You need a family law professional who can help the judge understand the child’s best interests. Contact us today by calling (713) 443-6730 to schedule a consultation. Having a child custody lawyer in Houston on your side is essential.