Child Custody in Houston: The Basics
Child custody in Houston is referred to as "conservatorship." Conservatorship is the authority to make decisions for a child, such as where the child will live and other health, educational, and upbringing-related matters. Generally, a conservatorship is not about the quantity of time spent with a child by one individual. Rather than that, it addresses the child's rights, capabilities, and responsibilities.
Two individuals may be awarded shared managing conservatorships, or one individual might be granted exclusive custody. Even in joint managing conservatorship scenarios, two people might not have equal rights. For instance, one individual may spend a lot on physical time with the child than another, and frequently, one individual's home may be recognized as the child's main residence.
Visitation referred to in Texas as "access and possession," is frequently provided to a person ("possessory conservator") who shares managing conservatorship with the child but whose permanent residence is not the kid's principal residence. For visitation purposes, Texas law establishes a Standard Possession Order.In Houston, Who Can File for Child Custody?
Only those with a legally recognized interest in a kid may petition for custody. Individuals that qualify in general include the following:
- A child's parent; The child (via a court-appointed representation);
- A child's custodian or guardian;
- A public entity or other duly authorized agency;
- A male claiming to be the child's father; or A relative, foster parent, or other third party who meets all other eligibility conditions.
If a child's parent-child connection with each live parent has been lawfully dissolved, the following individuals are prohibited from initiating a new child custody case:
- A former parent;
- a biological father;
or a former parent's family member.How Do I Submit an Application for Child Custody in Houston?
In Houston, there are three basic methods for obtaining custody:
- If you are married to the child's other parent, you must file a divorce petition.
- If you are not married to the child's other parent but paternity has been established, you may file a Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship (SAPCR); or
If you are not married to the child's other parent and paternity has not been confirmed, you may file a paternity case.Can Individuals Agree on Custody on Their Own?
Yes, with the court's approval. When possible, family courts urge individuals to achieve custody agreements on their own. In general, a court will approve an agreement if it complies with specific legal conditions. Agreements are frequently the quickest and least expensive option to obtain child custody orders.What Happens if There is No Agreement?
If the parties cannot agree on custody, a judge will conduct a hearing to determine final custody arrangements.
Prior to hearing a case, a court may order the parties to mediation. If the parties achieve an agreement during the mediation process, the court will typically make the arrangement permanent.
A judge may also order a sociological study to obtain an unbiased evaluation from a trained professional while deciding custody. An evaluator will conduct interviews with parents, children, and other individuals as part of the study. Additionally, he or she will evaluate school records, medical data, and documents from other agencies. Within 90 days, the evaluator will submit a written report with a recommendation about conservatorship, access, and possession. The judge will evaluate the report during the custody hearing.
Custody hearings can be challenging, and you may wish to counsel an experienced Houston family law attorney.What Considerations Does a Judge Make During a Hearing?
In Houston, judges have considerable latitude when it comes to issuing custody orders. A judge's primary consideration will be the child's best interests.
According to Texas law, children have a right to regular and continuing contact with both parents. Typically, this implies that a judge will grant joint managing conservatorship to both parents unless the judge considers that doing so would be detrimental to the child's physical growth and emotional well-being. For instance, a court may grant sole managing conservatorship to one parent if there is proof of the other parent abusing children or abusing alcohol and drugs. Additionally, the legislation specifies that the judge cannot give preference to one parent only on the basis of their gender.
Among the additional reasons that a judge may consider are the following:
- The child's wishes;
- Any specific medical, physical, or emotional problems the youngster may have;
- Whether the party involved in extracurricular activities with the child;
- Both parents' employment schedules;
- Whether one parent was previously the child's primary carer;
- Each party's parental abilities;
- the stability of each parent's home;
and whether a person fosters a cooperative parenting atmosphere with the other parent.What if I Am Afraid My Child Will Suffer Immediate Harm?
If you are afraid that your kid will suffer immediate damage, you can seek for temporary emergenc
y orders known as "ex parte" orders. These are extremely uncommon and difficult to find. However, you may seek ex parte orders if someone is illegally holding your child or if your child is in danger of abuse. When you file for temporary emergency orders, the court may schedule a hearing to determine the necessity of the orders.How Do I Modify an Existing Child Custody Order?
If you wish to modify an existing custody order, you must submit a request with the court to modify conservatorship or possession and access. Unless there is an emergency, you must normally wait at least one year from the original order date before requesting a change. To obtain a modification, you must normally demonstrate that the new order is in the child's best interests and that circumstances have changed considerably since the previous order was issued.
Child custody disputes may be stressful and perplexing, even more so when the adults involved are unable to resolve their disagreements. To assist your family in coping with this trying period, you may wish to consult to a child custody attorney in Harris County, Galveston County, Fort Bend County, Montgomery County, Brazoria County, Houston, Sugar Land, Missouri City, Stafford, Texas at Thornton Esquire Law Group, PLLC, and for a free consultation, contact us today.