How Do Texas Courts Determine Child Custody and Child Visitation?
One of the most important issues of any divorce case is child custody. When contemplating a divorce, you must also contemplate the consequences of a divorce on children and what the court will be looking at when determining child custody. The following is a brief overview. For more detailed information regarding the circumstances in your situation, a Texas child custody attorney from Winfrey Law Firm, PLLC can help.
Types of Child Custody and Child Visitation
Custody and visitation are awarded in two parts, legal and physical. Under Texas law, a court can order either joint custody to both parents or sole custody to one parent. These terms refer not only to how much visitation a parent will receive, but also address the power the parent has over decisions regarding the children.
Joint custody is where both parties have equal say in decisions that involve their children. These decisions include things regarding religion, education, healthcare, and other important issues. In most joint custody arrangements, if the parties cannot come to an agreement regarding these important issues, the parties will be sent to a mediator to resolve the dispute. If the mediator cannot solve the issues, then either party has the right to petition the court for a resolution of the issues.
When the court orders joint custody or the parties agree to joint custody, the written agreement must include how the decisions are to be made between the parties, a means of resolving disputes between the parents, and a periodic review of the terms of the agreement. It is critical that you have a seasoned child custody and visitation attorney representing you, like the attorneys at Winfrey Law Firm, PLLC.
Additionally, under joint custody, both parents will enjoy joint physical custody of the children. Though this might not be a complete 50/50 split of time, it should be a fair split of time between the parties.
Sole custody is where one parent is granted the power to make all major decisions regarding the children. In a sole custody situation, the children reside with the custodial parent and the non-custodial parent receives visitation rights.
When leaving the decision of joint custody vs. sole custody to the court, the court will look at the best interest of the child factors in making its decision. These include:
Once a decision by the court is made regarding child custody and visitation, a parent can petition the court for a modification of custody after three years has passed, if there is clear and convincing evidence that a substantial change in circumstances has occurred, or before the three years has passed if there is evidence that the child’s mental and/or physical health is in serious danger.
Call the Skilled Child Custody and Visitation Lawyers at Winfrey Law Firm, PLLC
The experienced Texas child custody and visitation lawyers at Winfrey Law Firm, PLLC understand that deciding child custody issues can be a stressful and confusing time in your life. The goal of our family law attorneys is to ensure that you understand both the legal and practical implications of your decisions. Call our office today for a free consultation.