Experienced and Compassionate Attorneys to Help You Protect the Best Interests of Your Children and Safeguard Your Rights
There’s probably nothing more difficult in a divorce proceeding than determining where your minor children will spend most of their time, and how often they will see each parent. You want what’s best for them, but you also want to be meaningfully involved in their growth and development. In many situations, you can put your differences with your spouse behind you and come to agreements that promote the best interests of your children. When you have fundamental disagreements, though, about what custody and visitation should look like, you want an experienced, yet compassionate, lawyer to guide you through the process. You want an attorney who will know your legal rights and options, who will aggressively advocate for you. But you also want a lawyer who understands the complex emotions that come into play when there are minor children of divorce. Bailey & Galyen can help.
At Bailey & Galyen, we have worked with parents of divorce for more than 40 years, helping them protect their parental rights while promoting the best interests of their children. The hallmarks of our practice have always been a commitment to hard work and unmatched client service. We’ll take the time to listen carefully, so that we know your concerns, as well as the outcome you seek. We’ll keep you fully informed of all developments in your case, and will carefully explain your options, as well as your prospects for success, so that you can make good decisions about child custody and visitation issues. We know the value of regular and direct communication with legal counsel and will strive to be available and accessible when you need to talk with us.
What Are the Laws Governing Child Custody in Arlington?
The Texas Family Code sets forth the rights and responsibilities of all parents in custody and visitation matters, granting mothers and fathers equal rights under the law. According to the Family Law Code, when a marriage is terminated through divorce and there are minor children in the home, the parents are both presumed by law to be “joint managing conservators.” As joint managing conservators, they are entitled to equal decision-making authority and responsibility for all minor children. This presumption, though, does not require that the mother and the father have equal time with the children.
The parties to a divorce proceeding may put together their own custody/visitation plan, without the involvement of the court. Even if they do, though, the custody arrangement must be committed to paper and must be submitted to the court for approval.
Are There Different Types of Child Custody in Texas?
Yes. In Texas, as in all states, there are two common types of custody or conservatorship:
Joint managing conservatorships (also referred to as “joint custody”)—Under this type of custody arrangement, it will be presumed that both parents will share the rights and duties of parenthood. The court may, at its discretion, may give one of the parties the exclusive right to make certain types of decisions, should the court determine that doing so is “in the best interests of the child.” The divorce decree will typically identify both separate and joint powers and responsibilities.
It’s also customary, when the court establishes a joint managing conservatorship, to grant one parent primary physical custody (making that the residence of the minor children) and allow the other parent some level of regular visitation. The specific terms of the non-custodial parents time with minor children are included in a separate court order known as a “standard possession order.”
- Sole managing conservatorships (or “sole custody”)—When the court concludes that it will be in the best interests of the minor child, it will give one parent the sole or exclusive right to make decisions regarding the welfare of the child. This authority commonly includes the right to make all decisions related to:
- The child’s primary residence
- Any medical or dental care required by the child
- Where the child will attend school
- Any extracurricular activities with which the child may be involved
- Any psychological or psychiatric care required by or for the child
- Who will be designated as a contact person in an emergency situation
As a general rule, when one parent gets sole managing conservatorship, that party also has the right to receive child support.
How Does the State of Texas Make Determinations about Child Custody?
The guiding principle for determining child custody in Texas is what is commonly referred to as “the best interests of the child.” The factors that go into making a decision about the best interests of the child include:
- The involvement of each parent in the child’s life during the course of the marriage
- Whether the parents have shown a willingness to work cooperatively with each other for the benefit of the child. Specifically, are there documented instances where one of the parents has disparaged or badmouthed the other parent in front of the children, or otherwise sought to alienate the child’s affection for the other parent.
- The relative stability of each parent’s home—The court will evaluate the living situation with each parent to ensure that they can provide a consistent and safe place for the child to live and thrive.
- Whether either parent has history of substance abuse, domestic violence or criminal activity
- How to best ensure continuity in the child’s life—The court will seek to establish arrangements that minimize any interference or irregularity in the child’s daily life
- The wishes of the child—Generally, when a child reaches the age of 12, he or she may be consulted to determine where he or she would like to spend most of the time
How Long Does It Take to Resolve a Child Custody Dispute in Arlington?
When parents work cooperatively, the process can go smoothly and be resolved quickly, often within a couple months. When custody or visitation issues are contested, though, they can often take months or even years to resolve.
Suits Affecting a Parent-Child Relationship (SAPCR) in Texas
In Texas, when there are disputed issues related to the rights of a minor child, either parent has the right to file what is known as a “suit affecting a parent-child relationship,” or SAPCR. An SAPCR may address issues related to custody, visitation, child support, medical and dental costs.
What Are the Typical Types of Child Custody Issues that Arise in Arlington?
The common child custody disagreements involve:
- Who will be granted primary physical custody and what visitation will look like for the non-custodial parent, as set forth in the final divorce decree
- The rights of a non-custodial parent when a custodial parent wrongfully denies access or visitation—the enforcement of a standard possession order
- The rights of a custodial or non-custodial parent to take a minor child out of the state or out of the country
- Disputes over how to modify a child custody order when circumstances change
What is the Process for Modifying a Texas Child Custody Order?
The custodial and non-custodial parent can always agree to periodic or occasional deviations from standard custody and visitation schedules. However, all long-term or permanent changes need to be reviewed and approved by the court. That requires a request for modification, typically in the form of a motion. If necessary, the judge may hold a hearing before making a determination.
Why Choose Bailey & Galyen as Your Arlington Child Custody Attorneys?
At Bailey & Galyen, we bring more than 40 years of experience to parents throughout Texas who are involved in child custody controversies. We have a comprehensive knowledge of the law and know how to effectively work to get the outcome you want.
Got a Question? Schedule a Free Initial Consultation with Our Arlington Child Custody Attorneys
At the law offices of Bailey and Galyen, with offices throughout Texas, we work hard to ensure your total satisfaction with our representation. We will take your call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Evening and weekend consultations may be arranged upon request. We will also travel to meet with you, if necessary.