A Comprehensive Guide to Navigating Child Custody
Child custody and support are highly important issues for families. To ensure that the rights of both parents and children are respected, it is important to work with a qualified legal professional that knows the laws that apply in each situation.
Custody and visitation are commonly used terms when talking about a child’s living arrangements, but in Texas, these are not legal terms. Conservatorship, possession, and access are the legal terms that the state of Texas uses to define the rights and duties of a parent with regard to their child. Generally speaking, conservatorship describes which parent has the authority to make major decisions regarding the child’s life such as medical care, schooling, and religious upbringing. Possession dictates which parent will have original custody of the child; this includes where the child lives for most of their time.
Lastly, access provides guidelines for instance when one parent will visit with or spend time with their child even though they do not possess original custody. Each of these areas may be divided up in different ways depending on what is best for each particular family's situation. Understanding how these concepts work together can help interested individuals tailor agreements that meet everyone's needs.Texas Law
The Texas Family Code, Chapter 101 outlines the laws which govern parental responsibilities and duties. These provisions provide a framework that helps to ensure that all children are taken care of and protected. The code defines the term “parent” as a legal guardian or custodian, whether biological or adoptive. It provides for special conditions regarding adopted children, such as those born outside of Texas or those adopted by stepparents or by court order. This chapter also includes laws regarding the termination of parental rights, paternal-child relationships, grandparents' restricted access to grandchildren, and agreements on custody and support.
The establishment of parental responsibility is an important step in protecting kids’ best interests whilst encouraging parents to take responsibility for them. That’s why this chapter sets out the guidelines under which a parent is legally considered to be responsible for their child. The Texas Family Code requires that each parent complies with court orders related to visitation, support, parenting plans, and other matters concerning the welfare of their child. It also requires that each parent participates in counseling before parental rights are terminated and communicate regularly with their child's other parent.Possession Orders
Possession orders are an important part of family court rulings. Possession orders are usually found in Suit Affecting Parent-Child Relationship (SAPCR) rulings, covering when and for how much time each parent will spend with the child, as well as who the primary custodian is. It also details any variations that may be allowed, such as vacation times or special circumstances.
Sometimes parents fail to comply with these court-mandated possession orders due to varying factors. Courts do have the authority to enforce these orders as noncompliance can be seen as contempt of court and can lead to jail time for an offending parent. Enforcement actions are usually implemented in severe cases where one parent has failed repeatedly to adhere to the guidelines outlined by their state's laws and the court order itself. Parents must make sure they abide by all decisions made in regard to raising their children in order to ensure the health, safety, and overall well-being of those involved.Child's Preference
In Texas, a court must consider the preferences of any child over twelve years old when requested by either parent in a custody suit; however, the court's decision must be determined in accordance with what is best for the child.
The Texas Family Code provides a way for older children to express their wishes about which parent they want to live with and what type of visitation arrangement should be used for access by the non-custodial parent. Ultimately though, such verbal instructions are not legally binding and cannot automatically grant a given outcome to any party – rather, they supply valuable context and insight as to how the court should rule.Out-of-State Custody and Possession Orders
When families move to a new state, they may bring outstanding custody or visitation orders from the previous state (or country) with them. To ensure that these orders are enforced in the new state, they must be “domesticated” or registered with the courts in their current location. In Texas, this involves filing an application for registration of a foreign order along with copies of all orders and judgments to prove that each judgment was rendered in accordance with due process laws.
Once the application is approved and registered by a Texas court, all parties involved will become subject to that court’s jurisdiction. This means that any modifications or revocations of custody or visitation would need to be sought and adjusted through a Texas court — even if another state issued the original order — until such time as all parties involved have left Texas again. Registering out-of-state orders allows families to more easily transition between states while seeking to maintain existing arrangements regarding custody and visitation rights.
Get Help From an Experienced Lawyer in Texas
An experienced family law attorney in Harris County, Galveston County, Fort Bend County, Montgomery County, Brazoria County, Houston, Sugar Land, Missouri City, and Stafford, Texas at Thornton Esquire Law Group, PLLC, can help you explain and navigate the entire case process. Contact us today at www.thorntonesquirelawgroup.com for a free consultation.