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Child Custody

Dallas Child Custody Lawyers

Child Custody Laws in Texas

In the Texas Family Code, child custody is known as conservatorship. Tex. Fam. Code Chapter 153 states that custody is granted to (a) certain individual(s) based on the best interests of the child. In order to obtain custody after a divorce, you will need to prove to the court that maintaining custody of your child is in their best interest.

Have questions about child custody in Texas? We have answers. Contact our Dallas child custody attorneys online or call us at (972) 852-8000 today.

O’Neil Wysocki P.C. has handled numerous cases involving child custody, combining compassionate service with relentless representation. Anyone in need of a Dallas child custody attorney can benefit from calling our firm.

Michelle O'Neil and Michael Wysocki are both board certified family law specialists, as well as attorney Jennifer Satagaj. Our child custody lawyers have not only garnered numerous industry awards, but also the trust of countless individuals, couples, and families who have depended on us.

We can help with all matters surrounding child custody, including:

How Is Child Custody Determined in Texas?

Texas courts determine child custody based on the best interests of the child. In order to make this decision, they may consider the following factors:

  • The relationship between each parent and the child;
  • The health and safety of the child;
  • The health of the parents;
  • Where the parents live and how close they live to each other;
  • Each parent's finances; and
  • Any history of child abuse.

Is Texas a Mother State for Custody?

Texas courts do not favor either the mother or the father when it comes to custody decisions; they are legally forbidden to use gender as a factor. Instead, they evaluate what would be in the best interests of the child based on several factors, such as the existing relationship between each parent and the child.

Parenting Time & Parenting Agreements

In Texas, it is very rare for one parent to be granted sole conservatorship (custody) of their child by the court after a divorce. Most cases allow both parents to have some form of possession of or access to their child.

In Texas, "parenting time" is the term used for the agreement or court order that defines how much time each parent spends with their child and how involved each parent is in making decisions for the child. Many parenting agreements are drafted between the two parents without the court having to intervene. If the matter is disputed, however, it must be taken to court and litigated before a judge.

If a parenting agreement is being decided in court, both sides must present their arguments and, in the end, the judge will determine the parenting schedule and decision-making rights for each parent. Whether you need help drafting a parenting schedule or fighting for fair parenting time in court, our child custody attorneys in Dallas can provide the representation you need. The Dallas custody lawyers at O’Neil Wysocki P.C. will fight tirelessly to win the parenting time you deserve.

What Is Sole Custody?

Before you start fighting for custody of your child, it is important that you know what types of conservatorship the court can order:

  • Sole managing conservatorship (or sole custody) can be awarded to one parent, which means that the child primarily resides with one parent and that parent has exclusive rights to making decisions about the child's life and upbringing. The other parent may be granted possessory conservatorship, which allows them visitation rights with their child.
  • Joint managing conservatorship is ordered when the court decides that both parents need to be involved in the child's life. A joint parenting plan will be drafted and entered to establish which parent the child spends time with and at what time(s).

Standard Possession Schedule in Texas

Many parents in Texas have possession of and access to their children pursuant to the Standard Possession Schedule contained within the Texas Family Code. The parent that has standard possession is entitled to possession of a child during the 1st, 3rd, and 5th weekends of each month throughout the year. The 1st, 3rd, and 5th weekends of the month are not the same as every other weekend.

Additionally, under a Texas Standard Possession Schedule, the non-primary/possessory conservator can select 30 days for purposes of his or her summer possession, which can be split up into a maximum of two periods of at least seven days each. The non-primary conservator will continue to exercise their 1st, 3rd, and 5th weekends of the month in addition to the 30 days of extended summer possession.

Types of Conservatorships in Texas Custody Cases

If you're navigating a custody case, understanding the different types of conservatorships that could be available to you is essential.

In most custody cases, the court pursues a joint managing conservatorship (JMC). In a JMC, both parents have physical and legal custody of the child. Whichever parent the child lives with the majority of the time is the custodial parent, and the other is the noncustodial parent.

Courts tend to default to JMCs under the assumption that it's ideal for a child to spend time with both parents consistently. However, if the court finds that one parent is unfit to care for their child, they may award the other parent with a sole managing conservatorship (SMC) instead.

What Makes a Parent Unfit In Texas?

Some reasons the court may determine a parent is "unfit" include:

  • They have a history of child abuse, neglect, or family violence;
  • They are currently abusing substances;
  • They consistently fail to act in the child's best interests;
  • Their mental or physical health is too poor to reliably care for their child;
  • The child is old enough to have input on the custody case and requests an SMC;
  • The parent is incarcerated or cannot care for their child due to their living situation.

In an SMC, whichever parent houses the child is called a "possessory conservator." This parent often has almost total or total legal and physical custody of their child.

However, the other parent may still be able to visit their child if they can obtain visitation rights. Depending on the circumstances of the case, the court may rule that the other parent can only visit their child with a third party supervising them. In other instances, the other parent may be able to visit their child regularly as part of a visitation schedule.

A wide range of factors impact custody cases. As a result, having a lawyer you can trust to advocate for your parental rights is absolutely vital.

Choose the Experience of O’Neil Wysocki P.C.

The custody lawyers at O’Neil Wysocki P.C. provides compassionate legal counsel for those going through the difficult process of divorce. However, we are relentless in the courtroom and will never back down when fighting for your rights. Contact our child custody lawyers today for the support, guidance, and skilled representation that you need to fight for custody of your child.

Call (972) 852-8000 to get started on your case.

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