Rockport Child Custody Lawyer Helping Clients Navigate Child Custody Matters in Texas
Child custody tends to be one of the hottest and most disputed topics of a divorce simply because the outcome of a child custody battle can impact your relationship with your children. When dealing with a child custody dispute, being able to rely on a skilled Rockport child custody lawyer may make all the difference in your case.
Is Conservatorship the Same as Custody in Texas?
Texas refers to child custody as conservatorship, and much like in other states, parents may seek joint custody (or be joint managing conservators) or sole custody (and be sole managing conservators). Family courts in Texas tend to have a strong preference for awarding joint managing conservatorships rather than sole managing conservatorships because the courts believe that having both parents involved in raising the child and making important decisions on the child’s behalf is more beneficial than delegating these responsibilities to only one parent.
Parents seeking sole managing conservatorship powers should demonstrate valid reasons for doing so, such as the other parent having a pending criminal conviction, a history of abuse, or otherwise presenting a possible threat to the child’s emotional and physical well-being. If you plan on seeking a sole managing conservatorship for your child custody situation, working with an experienced Rockport child custody lawyer is essential to build a strong case in your favor.
Does Texas Allow Children to Choose Which Parent to Live With?
You may have heard from a friend or read it somewhere that children in Texas have the choice of which parent they would rather live with in the event of a divorce. However, things do not exactly work that way, so it’s important to understand how the child’s preference may or may not influence custody decisions made by the court.
The reality is that the child’s preference is one of many factors a judge may use to make child custody decisions. Children who are 12 years or older and of enough maturity may choose to have a private conference in the judge’s chambers to talk about which parent they would rather live with, but the final decision is up to the judge. This is because sometimes children may say they want to live with a parent for the wrong reasons, such as a parent that is not as demanding and lets the child do whatever they want, which is ultimately not beneficial to the child. When the child turns 18, they are considered an adult and can choose where to live – with a parent or on their own. Until then, any custody decisions made by the court continue to be valid.
What Other Factors Does a Judge Use When Making Custody Decisions?
You may have heard the term “best interests of the child” in connection to child custody decisions. The term refers to a set of principles a judge may refer to when determining what decision will benefit the child the most in the long run, considering the child’s overall emotional and physical needs. As discussed previously, the child’s personal preference is just one of many other factors.
When making custody decisions, a judge may analyze the parenting abilities of each party seeking custody, each parent’s history with the child (for example, whether one parent was the main caretaker for most of the time), and whether either parent can offer a safe, emotionally stable and nurturing home for the child.
Because Texas assigns equal rights to both parents, the state is no longer what some may call a “mother state” for custody matters. Traditionally, the mother was automatically assumed to be the best parent to care for the child, and most custody decisions would be made in favor of the mother. Today, Texas courts use the best interests of the child standard to guide child custody decisions rather than relying on any type of gender bias.
Should I Represent Myself in my Child Custody Case?
Every person who is of legal age has the right to represent themselves in a court case. But just because you are allowed to do it, it does not mean you should or that it would work in your favor. The thought of cutting costs by avoiding attorney fees can be tempting, but once you start working on your case, you may quickly become overwhelmed by the amount of work it requires, even if your divorce is amicable.
When you choose to represent yourself, the court may not give you any special treatment and will expect you to have the same knowledge of the law and legal procedures as an attorney would. You may run the risk of appearing unprepared. Without any previous courtroom experience, you may end up leaving a lot on the table and favoring the other party in your custody case. By not hiring an attorney, you may find that you are risking a lot and could end up wasting time and money.
Child custody issues are emotional by nature, and an attorney has the training and knowledge to keep a clear mind amidst a highly emotional situation and conduct negotiations effectively. There is no need to try and figure it all out on your own! At the Law Offices of S. Dylan Pearcy, you will find the skilled legal help you need to win your child custody case and move on with your life. Call our Rockport office at (361) 203-7097 to learn more.