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McKinney Child Custody Lawyer: Helping Texas Families
At Nordhaus Walpole, PLLC, we represent North Texas parents in all custody-related matters. This includes establishing custody in the context of a divorce, establishing custody outside of the divorce process, and modifying and enforcing parents’ custody rights. Wach McKinnery child custody lawyer routinely assists clients with matters including:
- Shared Parenting
- Child Alienation
- Family Violence
- Parental Relocation
- Grandparents’ Rights
- Fathers’ Rights
- Child Custody for Unmarried Parents
- Child Custody Modifications
- Child Visitation
Regardless of whether you and your children’s other parent are able to work together or you need to fight for custody or visitation rights in court, it is important not to overlook any issues that could lead to disagreements in the future. Whenever possible, we help our clients craft comprehensive parenting plans and make informed decisions about issues such as:
- Parenting time schedules
- Vacations and holidays
- Child transportation
- School and extracurricular activities
- Routine and emergency healthcare
- Shared decision-making
- Curfews, cell phone restrictions, and privacy
- Pets and pet-related expenses
- Amicable conflict resolution
Child custody matters require careful consideration and a thorough understanding of the laws that apply. In Texas, all custody determinations must be made based upon the best interests of the children involved. While divorcing and separating parents have the option to negotiate a parenting plan without turning to the courts for resolution, negotiated parenting plans must clearly reflect the children’s best interests – and not be focused solely upon what is most convenient or most desirable for the parents.
Explaining Texas Child Custody Terminology
In Texas, the legal term for custody is “conservatorship.” There are two types of conservatorship under Texas law:
- Managing Conservatorship – A parent with managing conservatorship has responsibility for making decisions about their child’s education, religious upbringing, healthcare and other matters of similar importance (in other states, this is known as “legal custody”).
- Possessory Conservatorship — A parent with possessory conservatorship has the legal right to spend time with their child (in other states, this is referred to as “physical custody” and “visitation).
It is possible for parents to share managing and possessory conservatorship (commonly referred to as “joint conservatorship”); or, in some cases one parent may be granted sole conservatorship. The Texas courts generally favor some form of joint conservatorship, as ensuring that both parents maintain an active role in their children’s lives is generally viewed as being in the children’s best interests. However, there are exceptions (such as in the case of family violence), and any parent interested in pursuing sole conservatorship should discuss his or her options with an experienced McKinney child custody lawyer.
Protecting the Best Interests of Your Children
When assessing proposed parenting plans, judges in Texas assess a list of factors focused on determining the best interests of the children involved. As a result, when putting together a parenting plan, divorcing and separating parents should focus on these same factors. In Texas, the “best interests” factors for child custody determinations include:
- Whether the children will benefit from the parents receiving joint or shared custody;
- Each parent’s ability to give first priority to their children’s needs;
- Each parent’s ability to reach shared decisions in their children’s best interests;
- Whether each parent can encourage and accept a positive relationship between his or her children and the children’s other parent;
- Whether both parents assisted in raising their children prior to their divorce or separation;
- The parents’ geographical proximity; and,
- The preferences of any child over the age of 12.
This list is not exclusive, and each factor can carry different weight depending upon the unique personal and family circumstances involved. With our extensive experience in complex custody matters, our McKinney child custody lawyers can help you craft a parenting plan (or seek a custody and visitation order in court) that gives due consideration to all of the relevant factors.
Texas Child Custody FAQs
Q: Does it matter where my children want to live?
Potentially, yes. Under Texas law, if you have a child who is over the age of 12, his or her preference is a factor to be considered when establishing custody. This, obviously, can be a very sensitive matter, and taking a child’s wishes into consideration requires a careful attention to the potential emotional and psychological consequences of asking a child to choose to live primarily with one parent rather than the other. Learn more: Does it Matter Where My Children Want to Live?
Q: Will I be able to obtain custody if I work full-time?
Potentially, yes. In Texas, both parents are given equal consideration in all custody-related matters, and the child’s best interests are what matter most. If you work full-time and it is in your child’s best interests for you to have custody, then you should have custody. There are steps you can take to help prove that you should be designated as your children’s custodial parent. You can learn more in: Seeking Custody When You Work Full-Time.
Q: Will I need to undergo a custody evaluation as part of my separation or divorce?
Maybe, but probably not. In Texas, child custody evaluations are used only as a last resort when parents are completely at odds regarding their wishes for custody and visitation. In most cases, even parents who are in disagreement initially will be able to reach an amicable resolution and avoid the need for court intervention. For more information, you can read: What Do Divorcing Parents Need to Know about Child Custody Evaluations in Texas?
Q: What else do I need to know as a parent preparing for a divorce or separation?
Custody isn’t the only child-related issue that you will need to address during your divorce or separation. You will also need to address child support, and there are certain child-related expenses that fall outside of the realm of child support as well. To learn more, read: 5 Key Facts for Parents Considering Divorce.
Schedule a Free, No-Obligation Consultation with an Experience McKinney Child Custody Lawyer
If you are preparing to go through a divorce or separation and would like to speak with a lawyer about child custody, you can contact our McKinney, TX law offices for a free, no-obligation consultation. To schedule an appointment at your convenience, please call (214) 726-1450 or send us a message online today.