Georgetown Child Custody Lawyer

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Whether child custody issues arise as a result of divorce, the separation of unmarried parents, or a need for changes to an existing order, they are some of the most sensitive issues in family law. A qualified Georgetown child custody lawyer will take care to not only address the legal aspect of the situation but also recognize the emotional strain and stress that these situations place on those who care for a child.

The Vaught Law Firm is experienced in handling the most challenging of child custody cases. Our lawyers are certified family law attorneys and have a passion for helping families with these issues. We understand how important your child is and do what we can to help you reach your child custody objectives.

Defining Child Custody in Georgetown, Texas

In Texas, child custody is divided into two forms:

  • Possession and Access. This portion of custody is meant to address the physical dimension of a child’s life regarding where they will primarily reside and how much time they will be allowed with each parent.
  • Conservatorship. This portion of custody relates to the kinds of decisions that a parent makes in raising a child, as well as who will be responsible for making those decisions regarding issues like education, medicine, and religious upbringing.

The custody that’s awarded will depend on the factors of the case, but unless there is sufficient reason not to, the courts often try to ensure that parents have a reasonable amount of time with their child. They would also prefer for a conservatorship to be held jointly so that the parents can work together to decide on these critical issues. The court does have the ability, though, to award sole custody of either type in situations that warrant it.

How Child Custody Is Decided

Generally, custody is decided in one of two ways. One is that the court will hear both sides and make a decision. The other, and preference of the courts, is that the parents will be able to negotiate a custody plan. While a judge will need to approve the plan to ensure it meets the standards of the law, a negotiated agreement may still give the parents more control and influence on how the child will be cared for.

When deciding on custody or evaluating the agreement that a couple has provided, the court is responsible for making their decision based on the “best interests” of the child. This means that they believe the child’s welfare will be served by the orders that they put in place. However, they will consider a number of factors in evaluating what is in the child’s interests. Some of these factors include:

  • The physical and emotional needs of the child, both currently and in the future
  • Anything that could pose a physical or emotional danger to the child immediately or in the future
  • The parental abilities that each parent appears to have
  • What each parent has planned for the child
  • The stability and security of the home that each parent can provide
  • The kind of relationship that the parent presently has with the child, as well as reasons why the parent may not have a proper relationship at this time
  • Programs that could provide assistance to a parent in promoting their child’s interests
  • The child’s desires, particularly if they are mature enough to have a reasonable opinion

Modifications of Child Custody

Child custody orders can be more flexible than other court orders. They are issued based on the information and understanding that’s available at the present moment, but they are able to be modified if there is sufficient reason to. However, like the initial custody ruling, the most important element is the best interests of the child. This means that modifications will only be made if they will provide for better welfare for the child.

The request for a modification must be made based on the grounds of one of three potential circumstances:

  • There has been a substantial and material change in circumstances for the child, conservator, or someone else impacted by the orders, and that change in circumstances impacts the child’s welfare.
  • Primary care and possession of the child have been voluntarily relinquished by the conservator to someone else who has the exclusive right to decide the child’s primary residence.
  • A change in preference regarding where they would like to live has been expressed by a child who, at 12 years old, is old enough to make reasonable decisions.

There is a range of issues that could be considered substantial and material changes in circumstances. In some cases, a sufficient change may be an issue with the child, such as falling grades or behavioral issues in school. It could be a change in a parent’s work, or it could involve them moving either nearer or further away from the other parent. There is also a possibility that something like domestic violence or a substance abuse issue has created a situation that is no longer safe for the child.

Receiving a modification will require petitioning the court and then making a case in a hearing. A lawyer can be critical to this process, as they understand what the court needs to hear to warrant the need for modifications.

The Attorneys at the Vaught Law Firm Understand How Important Your Child Is to You

For most parents, nothing in their lives will exceed the importance of their children, but that love and devotion is what can make child custody issues especially difficult. The desire to spend time with a child and ensure that they are safe and secure is what drives most child custody conflicts, and this can make them emotionally stressful as well. You need legal help that recognizes these challenges.

The team at the Vaught Law Firm understands, from extensive experience, just how sensitive the issue of child custody can be. We recognize that in addition to the legal knowledge of our certified family law attorneys, our clients also need the care and compassion that these sensitive situations deserve. If you’re looking for the right combination of legal help and a caring approach, contact our team today.