Leander Child Custody Lawyer

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The most sensitive issue in all of family law is, arguably, the matter of child custody. This is a highly emotional issue for parents who want what’s right for their children and the opportunity to maximize the time spent with them. Unfortunately, the emotional tension around this issue can result in the proceedings turning contentious. That’s why it’s critical that you work with a Leander child custody lawyer who understands both the relevant law and how to help a parent work through such a challenging process.

The team at the Vaught Law Firm boasts some of the strongest child custody lawyers you can find in the state. Our lawyers are compassionate, talented, and knowledgeable. We bring both a firm grasp of the law and extensive experience in child custody to the cases we handle for our clients. We also understand and are sensitive to the emotional challenges involved with such an important subject.

How Is Child Custody Defined in Texas?

Child custody in Texas is divided in two separate categories addressing how the parents will be involved with the child:

  • Possession and Access. This aspect describes the issue of where children will reside and how their time will be divided between the two parents.
  • Conservatorship. This aspect of custody addresses the issues related to decision-making for the child. It defines how the parties will be involved in choices regarding the child’s education, medical treatment, religious affiliation, and other issues.

Conservatorship can be described as being held “jointly,” or one parent can be the “sole” conservator. In cases where there is a joint conservatorship, the parents will split this aspect of custody. The default starting point for a conservatorship is a preference for a joint conservatorship according to Tex. Fam. Code § 153.131(b) (2021). This means that the parents will need to work together to compromise or agree on those primary child-rearing issues.

For possession and access, the arrangement can be more complicated. While there is a Standard Possession Order, there may also be times when a judge may feel it necessary to deviate from that standard order. There are many different factors involved in deciding the way a child’s time will be divided.

Even when one party is given possession and access, there may be a requirement to allow the other time with the child. In some cases, when there are background concerns, there may be additional requirements regarding spending time with the child, which are meant to ensure the child’s safety.

In some situations, if it’s decided that the parent cannot stay alone with the child, a “supervised possession order” could be issued. This will allow some visitation with the child, but only in the presence of a third party. In other cases, no visitation rights will be granted. Children do not have the right to refuse visitation.

How Is Child Custody Decided in Texas?

Whether child custody is decided during a divorce or another situation, there are two primary paths to resolution. One is that the parents or other parties involved can work together to come to an agreement regarding a child custody plan. The court will need to approve the plan to ensure it fits within the standards of the law, but this method allows the parties involved more control and influence on the process.

The alternative is that the court will decide the child custody arrangement. This means that each side will need to make their strongest case before the judge, who will then make a decision after weighing a variety of factors. Their decisions will need to be based on the “best interest of the child.” While many different concerns will be examined in assessing what will be ideal for the child’s welfare, ultimately, the judge must do what they believe serves the child. Some of the factors considered by the court include:

  • Any threat of physical or emotional danger to the child
  • The stability of the home that can be offered to the child
  • The relationship that a parent has with their child, as well as the reasons that they may not have a proper relationship
  • Each parent’s ability to support a positive relationship between the child and the other   parent
  • The child’s needs, both physical and emotional
  • The parent’s ability to act as a proper parent
  • The availability of programs that may be used by the parents to serve the child’s welfare
  • What each parent plans for the child
  • In cases where the child is mature enough, their desires may also be considered.

Can Child Custody Orders Be Modified?

Child custody decisions are based on the circumstances of parents’ and children’s lives, as well as the information available at the time that the orders are issued. However, those circumstances may change over time, and that could mean that the previous orders are no longer serving the interests of the child.

These changes may be something simple, like a parent moving closer to their child so that they have the opportunity to spend more time with them. It may also be something serious, such as a parent developing a problem with substance abuse. A change in career or income may also warrant a modification, as well as new family arrangements, like a new marriage.

Because of the possibility of changes in circumstances, it is possible to make adjustments and modifications to child custody orders with the approval of a judge. This process begins with submitting a “Petition to Modify the Parent-Child Relationship” to the court. If the other party agrees to the modifications, only a brief hearing to ensure the child’s best interests are being met will be required. If there is conflict, however, then the situation will need to be argued before the court.

If there is an urgent situation, family courts have the option of issuing temporary custody orders that will be in place until the situation can be further adjudicated.

What if Someone Refuses to Allow Court-Ordered Time With a Child?

There are some circumstances where a parent, usually the one with primary conservatorship, refuses to allow the other parent the opportunity to spend time with the child as required within the court orders.

This is a serious offense and can often result in significant consequences. In some situations, it may even result in that parent losing custody. If this is something you are facing, it could be helpful to contact a Leander child custody lawyer to understand what options for resolution are available. They can help you enforce the court order.

What Does a Leander Child Custody Lawyer Do?

What a Leander child custody lawyer will do depends on the situation in which you need child custody help. Many initial child custody issues arise as a result of divorce. In these situations, child custody will need to be determined alongside other issues, such as property division, spousal support, and child support. However, it’s also possible that a child custody issue can arise among parents who were never married, and the matter will be decided on its own, along with child support.

We can assist with child custody in either case. If parents are seeking to negotiate a settlement, a lawyer can be a vital part of the process. With our experience and understanding of the issue, we help you understand what kind of outcome to expect. Knowing what to expect can often help keep the situation from becoming too contentious. We also understand how to put together an agreement that a judge will be likely to approve.

If your situation will need to be resolved in court, we can assist with that as well. It’s our job to represent you and advocate for your interests throughout the process. We can also handle the paperwork and the other legal procedures that are required.

A child custody attorney can also be critical for those who are seeking modifications to their orders. We can advise you as to whether or not your change in circumstances justifies modifications. It’s also important that the petition to the court is thorough and done well, or else there is a risk of it being rejected before even going to a hearing. We can help file that petition on your behalf, as well as represent you in the hearing.

The Vaught Law Firm Can Help With Your Child Custody Issue

For many people, no family law issue is more important than child custody. Most parents would give anything for their children. Unfortunately, when parents don’t live together, those desires can come into conflict, which can make child custody a potentially contentious issue.

At the Vaught Law Firm, we help parents seek the child custody arrangement they believe will be right for their child. The court is required to make rulings and approve agreements based on whether or not an arrangement will be in the best interests of the child. Our family law attorneys present the strongest argument they can to demonstrate how their client’s interests serve the child’s welfare. If you are facing a child custody dispute or are seeking modifications to an existing ruling, contact our team for help.

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