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Fathers’ Rights: Increasing Your Chances of Getting Physical Custody of Minor Children

Fathers’ Rights in Texas Divorce

For most of the history of divorce, mothers have been favored by courts for physical custody, often under what was known as the “tender years” doctrine, a theory that mothers were biologically better equipped to nurture small children. Though Texas has rejected the tender years doctrine, it’s still overwhelmingly more likely that a court will award physical custody (now known as managing conservatorship). As a father, there are specific things that you can do to increase your chances of securing physical custody of your children. Contact a Baytown family law attorney to learn more about fathers’ rights in Texas divorce.

fathers rights in texas divorce

The Best Interests of the Child Standard

For decades, the primary consideration when establishing custody in Texas has been the “best interests of the child.” The court will typically look at a wide variety of evidence and factors, all with an eye toward what will best promote healthy a emotional and physical environment for the child. With that in mind, here are some of the questions the court will likely ask:

  • What has been the nature of your relationship with your child?—How does the child view you? Have you been an active and meaningful presence in their lives? The court will be inclined to grant primary custody to the parent with whom the child has spent the most time and has the strongest bonds. Accordingly, did you participate in all the daily routines—dropping off and picking up at school, disciplinary measures, doctor’s appointments, baths and bedtime? The more you did, the better your chances of getting custody.
  • Can you get along with your ex-spouse?—The courts in Texas prefer that both parents have a meaningful role in the lives of minor children, and look with disfavor on a parent who belittles or denigrates the other parent. If you can show that you will maintain a positive relationship with the child’s mother, that will be viewed positively in custody determinations.
  • Are you prepared to be a parent?—If  you want custody, you have to be able to show the court that your primary focus, after the divorce, will be on parenting your children. If the court perceives that you’ll be more interested in your own personal development, or in new relationships, they may conclude that such a lifestyle is not in the child’s best interests.

Contact Us

At the office of Linda Stewart Law, PLLC, in Baytown, we bring more than 8 years of experience to clients in south Texas. To learn how we can help, call our office at 281-761-6042 or contact us online. We offer an initial consultation at a reduced fee of $50. We accept credit cards and will set up a payment plan, if appropriate. Our offices are open Monday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., and until noon on Fridays. Evening and weekend appointments can be arranged upon request.

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Joint Managing Conservatorships in Texas

Joint Managing Conservatorships in Texas

If you are involved in or considering a divorce in Texas and there are minor children involved, you need to get familiar with this term—joint managing conservatorship. It may sound daunting, but it’s something with which you are probably already very familiar—it’s the new language used in Texas to refer to custody of minor children. Our Baytown family law attorney can answer any questions about joint managing conservatorships in Texas.

Here’s how it works. In Texas, a parent who is awarded primary custody of minor children is referred to as the “sole managing conservator.” The other parent is called the “possessory conservator.” If the parents are granted joint custody, the relationship is known as a “joint managing conservatorship.” As a general rule, Texas considers a joint managing conservatorship to be in the “best interests of the child,” the standard for such decisions.

Conservatorships in Texas

How Does the Court Determine Managing Conservatorship?

As indicated above, the presumption is that a joint managing conservatorship will be best for any minor children. In fact, a court can (and often does) appoint both parents as joint managing conservators, even if the parties have not agreed to that arrangement.

It’s important to understand, though, that a joint managing conservatorship does not necessarily mean equal access or physical possession of a child. The court has discretion to grant one parent more time or access, based on a number of factors, including:

  • The ability of the parties to reach shared decisions that are in the best interests of the child
  • Whether or not there’s a positive relationship between the parents, or between the children and the parents
  • Whether the psychological, physical and emotional needs of the child will be met by the specific arrangement
  • The geographic proximity of the parents’ homes
  • The preference of the child, if the child is 12 years of age or older

Contact Us

At the office of Linda Stewart Law, PLLC, in Baytown, we bring more than 8 years of experience to clients in south Texas.

To learn how we can help, call our office at 281-761-6042 or contact us online. Our family law attorney offers an initial consultation at a reduced fee of $50. We accept credit cards and will set up a payment plan, if appropriate. Our offices are open Monday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., and until noon on Fridays. Evening and weekend appointments can be arranged upon request.

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How Does the Court Determine the “Best Interests” of the Child?

How Does the Court Determine the Best Interests of the Child?

Under Texas law, when establishing managing conservatorship (custody) and access (visitation) in family law matters, the court must give priority to the “best interests of the child,” crafting an order that promotes the child’s mental, physical and emotional needs. To accomplish that goal, the court has the discretion to grant sole legal and physical custody to one parent, or to make both parents “joint conservators.” Absent extenuating circumstances, the courts prefer to have both parents actively involved in making decisions about the child’s education, medical treatment, legal concerns and extra-curricular involvement. Furthermore, the courts encourage parents to work cooperatively to make decisions that meet the guidelines, getting involved only when that doesn’t happen. Contact a Baytown family law attorney to understand how the court determines the best interests of the child.

best interests of the child

The court can consider a number of factors when making a determination of what is in a child’s best interests, including:

  • The respective ability of each parent to effectively nurture and raise the child
  • The stability of each parent’s home and lifestyle
  • The child’s particular emotional and physical needs, including any special needs
  • Each parent’s plans for the child
  • The extent to which there has been any domestic abuse or violence by either parent, or any type of improper relationship between the child and a parent
  • The child’s wishes, if the child is at least 12 years of age

Contact Us

At the office of Linda Stewart Law, PLLC, in Baytown, we bring more than 8 years of experience to clients in south Texas. To learn how we can help, call our office at 281-761-6042 or contact us online. We offer an initial consultation at a reduced fee of $50. We accept credit cards and will set up a payment plan, if appropriate. Our offices are open Monday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., and until noon on Fridays. Evening and weekend appointments can be arranged upon request.

Se Habla Espanol | ASL and ESL Services Also Available

Relocating after Divorce in Texas

Relocating after Divorce in Texas

Often, in the aftermath of divorce, you want a change of scenery. However, there can be other reasons for seeking to relocate after a divorce—you may get a new job or a promotion, you may want to be closer to family, or there may be a specific benefit for your children. What are the restrictions, if any, on moving after a divorce, particularly when there are minor children involved? If you are relocating after divorce in Texas, contact a Baytown divorce lawyer for further assistance.

Under Texas law, as part of your divorce order, the court will set up a “managing conservatorship,” essentially what was formerly known as custody. As a general rule, the court prefers (and will establish) a joint managing conservatorship, consistent with the state’s stated objective of keeping both parents involved with the life and upbringing of the child. Achieving that objective can be complicated, though, even when both parents live in near each other. It becomes even more of a challenge when one of the parents wants to relocate.

Relocating after Divorce in Texas

You Must Get Permission from the Court

Almost universally, the court order in a Texas divorce prohibits the custodial parent (referred to as the “primary parent”) from relocating outside a certain area without first seeking and obtaining permission of the court. In most instances, permission must be sought if the custodial parent wants to move outside of any county contiguous with the county where the parties currently reside.

Even if

Proposed Bills Would Increase Cost of Texas Divorce, Impact Privacy

The Cost of Texas Divorce

Two changes to Texas divorce law proposed by Republican Matt Krause would significantly increase the time and cost involved in a divorce, and would have a devastating impact on the privacy of individuals involved in divorce proceedings. Krause has filed SB 93, which would eliminate “insupportability” as a legal cause for divorce in Texas, effectively doing away with no-fault divorce in Texas. The other proposed statute, HB 65, would extend the current 60 day waiting period to 180 days for couples with minor children. If you need help, contact a Baytown family law attorney about the cost of Texas divorce.

Under the current law in Texas, a party seeking divorce must provide a reason, but can cite “insupportability” as the cause, essentially saying that the bonds of marriage have been broken and the differences are irreconcilable. If Krause’s proposed law is adopted, that option will no longer be available and parties will have to cite one of the following reasons:

  • Adultery
  • Abandonment for a minimum of one year
  • Failure to cohabitate for at least three years
  • Commitment to a mental hospital
  • Cruelty
  • Conviction of a felony

Cost of Texas Divorce

Warren Cole, president-elect of the Texas Family Law Foundation, says the proposed statute, if enacted, would necessarily lead to significant increases in the cost of a divorce, as parties would have to spend money to prove adultery, abandonment or one of the other causes. He says that simply making it harder for people to get a divorce doesn’t get at the issue of whether or not the marriage is working, and that forcing parties to stay in an unhealthy relationship because they can’t afford a divorce serves no meaningful purpose. He also notes that parties who cite insupportability often do so to avoid publicly accusing a spouse of infidelity. If the law passes, he says, all that dirty laundry will have to be a matter of public record.

Contact Us

At the office of Linda Stewart Law, PLLC, in Baytown, our family law attorney brings more than 8 years of experience to clients in south Texas.

To learn how we can help, call our office at 281-761-6042 or contact us online. We offer an initial consultation at a reduced fee of $50. We accept credit cards and will set up a payment plan, if appropriate. Our offices are open Monday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., and until noon on Fridays. Evening and weekend appointments can be arranged upon request.

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Grounds for Divorce in Texas

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What Are Grounds for Divorce in Texas?

Texas now recognizes “no-fault” divorce, so it’s no longer necessary, to finalize the end of your marriage, that you identify the “grounds” upon which the divorce is based. However, you can still file an “at-fault” divorce complaint in Texas, and may use proof of fault to gain advantage in custody, support and property disputes. Here are the acceptable grounds for filing an “at-fault” divorce in Texas:

  • Adultery-If your spouse engaged in an extra-marital affair, with a person of either gender, it will be grounds for divorce
  • You have lived separate and apart for at least three years-Texas essentially considers the marriage ended if you have not cohabitated for three years and there’s no known intention for you to live together again
  • You abandoned your spouse—If you have not been in contact with your spouse for at least one calendar year, your spouse can use that as grounds for divorce
  • Mental cruelty—If one spouse engages in a degree of mental abuse or cruelty that makes it impossible for the parties to live together, the other spouse may seek an at-fault divorce
  • Conviction of a felony-You can seek an at-fault divorce if your spouse is convicted of and imprisoned on a felony charge, unless you testified against your spouse.
  • Confinement in a mental institution for at least three years-When one spouse is committed to a mental facility with no prospects of improvement, it will be grounds for divorce

Contact Us

At the office of Linda Stewart Law, PLLC, our Baytown family lawyers bring more than 8 years of experience to clients in south Texas.

To learn how we can help, call our office at 281-420-8020 or contact us online. We offer an initial consultation at a reduced fee of $50. We accept credit cards and will set up a payment plan, if appropriate. Our offices are open Monday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., and until noon on Fridays. Evening and weekend appointments can be arranged upon request.

Se Habla Espanol | ASL and ESL Services Also Available

Child Custody in Texas – The Factors the Court Will Consider

Child Custody in Texas

Child Custody in Texas

Under Texas family laws, the courts are required to give priority to the “best interests of the child” when making determinations related to child custody in a divorce proceeding. Among the factors the court many consider when determining what’s best for the child are:

  • The respective parenting abilities of the parties
  • The existing and potential needs of the child, both physical and emotional
  • Any potential or existing risks to the child related to either parent
  • The stability of the respective parental homes
  • Whether either parent has engaged in any activity (or failed to engage in any necessary actions) that may reflect unfitness as a parent
  • Any programs available to help parents meet the standards set by law
  • The preferences of the child, if the child is at least 12 years of age

Custody in Texas can take a couple forms—a managing conservatorship or a possessory conservatorship. A managing conservatorship addresses decisions about a child’s welfare, whereas a possessory conservatorship simply looks at access to and visitation with a child. Courts prefer to award joint managing conservatorship, but it’s pretty typical that the child still reside primarily with one of the parents.

Contact Us

At the office of Linda Stewart Law, PLLC, our Baytown family law attorney brings more than 8 years of experience to clients in south Texas. To learn how we can help, call our office at 281-761-6042 or contact us online. We offer an initial consultation at a reduced fee of $50. We accept credit cards and will set up a payment plan, if appropriate. Our offices are open Monday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., and until noon on Fridays. Evening and weekend appointments can be arranged upon request.

Se Habla Espanol | ASL and ESL Services Also Available

Child Custody in Texas – An Overview

child custody in texas

Child Custody in Texas

If you are involved in or considering a divorce and you have minor children in the home, one of your primary concerns will be the determination of child custody and visitation. You want what’s best for your children, but you also want to have regular and meaningful contact with your children. Contact a Baytown family law attorney for assistance with your child custody questions.

In Texas, the courts give priority to the best interests of the child when assessing custody (actually referred to in Texas as “managing conservatorship”) and visitation, known as “access.” There are actually two different types of custody in Texas—physical custody and legal custody. Physical custody refers to where the child resides, whereas legal custody addresses the rights of a parent to be involved in decision-making about the child’s welfare, looking at choices involving educational, medical, religious and other needs. The courts have a number of options:

  • A sole custody award—The courts can give one parent primary physical custody of the minor child and allow visitation with the other child. The courts try to strike a balance between offering stability for the child and ensuring that the child maintains a meaningful relationship with both parents.
  • Joint or shared custody—A joint custody award gives both parents equal rights. It’s pretty common for the courts to grant joint legal custody, so that both parents have a right to be consulted about crucial decisions that affect the child. The courts can also grant shared physical custody, where the child maintains two substantial residences.
  • Split custody—This arrangement, rarely implemented, involves families with more than one minor child. The court may grant custody of one child to one parent and another child to the other parent.

As a general rule, unless the court waives the requirement, both parents in a divorce must complete a mandatory parenting class before the divorce decree will be finalized. This requirement can be met with an online course.

Contact Us

At the office of Linda Stewart Law, PLLC, our Baytown family law attorney brings more than 8 years of experience to clients in south Texas. To learn how we can help, call our office at 281-761-6042 or contact us online. We offer an initial consultation at a reduced fee of $50. We accept credit cards and will set up a payment plan, if appropriate. Our offices are open Monday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., and until noon on Fridays. Evening and weekend appointments can be arranged upon request.

Se Habla Espanol | ASL and ESL Services Also Available

Strategies for a Different Life after Divorce

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For many people, the period of time after a divorce is one of great change, often full of activity. There can be a lot of reasons for that. It may be a way to distract yourself from the painful emotions that come with divorce. You may feel a tremendous sense of freedom and a desire to do things you haven’t done for years. But if you want to ensure that you won’t be back in the same situation in a few years, there are some steps you should take, to help you move toward a happy and productive life.

  • Face your grief-Regardless of how difficult your marriage was, you have still lost something. Be willing to take the time to both acknowledge and feel your loss. That’s best done by yourself or with familyanyone with whom you won’t be tempted to develop an intimate relationship, as you may (subconsciously, perhaps) try to fill the void left by your ex-spouse.
  • Keep it simple—It can be tempting to pack it all in, sell everything and move to Tahiti. But that’s probably not in your best interests. It’s a good thing to minimize the distractions in your life, so that you can get a strong sense of who you are and what you want to do with the rest of your life. Be confident in yourself before you make any major changes.
  • Let the past go—It’s easier said than done, but the reality is that you can’t change it. You can, however, choose how much it will limit you, how much it will define you. Don’t ignore it, but learn from it, rather than being controlled by it
  • Be willing to trust—Trust can be hard in the aftermath of a divorce, but it’s ultimately a choice and a two-way street. When you can’t trust others, they’ll have a hard time trusting you. Life is about risks-but learn from your choices.
  • Seek professional help when necessary

Contact Us

At the office of Linda Stewart Law, PLLC, in Baytown, we bring more than 8 years of experience to clients in south Texas. To learn how we can help, call our office at (281) 420-8020 or contact us online. We offer an initial consultation at a reduced fee of $50. We accept credit cards and will set up a payment plan, if appropriate. Our offices are open Monday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., and until noon on Fridays. Evening and weekend appointments can be arranged upon request.

Se Habla Espanol | ASL and ESL Services Also Available

Getting Through the Holidays When You Are Divorced

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It’s that time of year—Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years—when the tradition is to be with family. But what if your family is fractured, the casualty of a divorce? How can you make the holidays a positive experience for everyone, including your children? Here are some tips:

  • Talk about the holidays in advance and agree on a plan—Problems often arise when there are unconfirmed assumptions. Take the time to communicate with your ex and try to work out arrangements that are in the best interests of your children and give you meaningful time as a parent. Be willing to compromise, but only if it’s in everyone’s best interests. When you’ve formulated a plan, communicate it to your children, so they know exactly what to expect.
  • Don’t make the holidays a contest—The parent who buys the biggest gift is not the winner!! Don’t try to outdo your ex—time spent with your children is ultimately more meaningful that any gift you could give.
  • Always put your children’s needs first—You are an adult and you have better coping mechanisms for loss and absence. Your children will more acutely feel the pain of not seeing or spending time with grandparents, aunts, uncles and other important people. Let go of hard feelings for the benefit of your children.
  • Be willing to change—You may have a plan A that has to become a Plan B, whether due to illness, weather or other concerns. Strive to be cooperative without be complacent, engaged without being demanding.

Contact Us

At the office of Linda Stewart Law, PLLC, in Baytown, we bring more than 8 years of experience to clients in south Texas. To learn how we can help, call our office at 281-420-8020 or contact us online. We offer an initial consultation at a reduced fee of $50. We accept credit cards and will set up a payment plan, if appropriate. Our offices are open Monday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., and until noon on Fridays. Evening and weekend appointments can be arranged upon request.

Se Habla Espanol | ASL and ESL Services Also Available

 
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