Child custody issues can arise during a divorce or as a separate legal proceeding, if the parties are not married. Contrary to popular opinion, one parent is not awarded “custody” of the child to the exclusion of the other parent. Under almost all circumstances, the parties are going to share possession and custody of the child in one form or another, and are usually designated as the child’s joint managing conservators. However, joint managing conservatorship does not always mean equal time or equal rights. One parent is often designated as the “primary” conservator, with certain exclusive rights related to the child – such as where the child primarily lives or goes to school. The other parent will typically be in the role of paying child support to the primary conservator. Both parties will share possession of the child pursuant to a possession and access order.
The Texas Family Code provides a Standard Possession Order for children three years or older. This order can be significantly altered by agreement between the parents, and the court may also accommodate a parent whose circumstances makes the standard order unworkable. For children less than three years old, the court has discretion to determine the appropriate amount of access and possession by the non-primary parent, taking multiple factors into consideration.
Contested child custody litigation is often the most expensive part of any family law case. To call it complex, is an understatement. It could never be fully described in a few paragraphs. Let’s face it, if it were cheap and simple to contest primary custody of children – everyone would do it and do it often. In short, many hold the opinion that custody disputes are intentionally discouraged by virtue of the fact that the dispute is made to be complex and expensive. When a parent has no choice but to go through the emotional and costly process of a trial to resolve their custody issues, it is imperative to have an attorney on your side who is intimately familiar with complexities of custody disputes, understands the legal framework within which such cases are analyzed, and has a long track record of successful results for previous clients in similar situations.
The Altman Legal team is ready to assist you – contact us.