Dallas Custody Lawyers
Custody Attorneys in Texas
For parents, a custody battle is often the most dreaded aspect of a divorce. The thought of spending less time with your child(ren) can be devastating, particularly if you believe your soon-to-be-ex is unfit to care for them.
At Hance Law Group, PC, we focus on giving parents the compassionate legal counsel they deserve throughout the custody process. We'll focus on advocating for your capabilities as a parent in and out of court, working tirelessly to defend your parental rights and pursue an outcome that enables your child to thrive.
How Does Child Custody Work in Texas?
Texas uses different terms for the custody process than many other states. In Texas, legal custody is called conservatorship, and physical custody is called possession.
- Conservatorship concerns the ability of a parent or other caregiver to make decisions for a child, such as the medical care a child receives, where they go to school, what kinds of cultural experiences they're exposed to, etc.
- Possession concerns the ability of a parent or other caregiver to house a child or spend time with them.
In any child custody case, the court's primary concern is the child's best interests.
How your custody case proceeds depends on the details surrounding the custody battle.
For example, custody battles usually occur in congruence with a divorce. If you're attempting to resolve your divorce out of court using something like collaborative law or mediation, you may choose to negotiate terms for custody with your co-parent and draft a parenting plan together.
Alternatively, if you're litigating your custody battle in court, the court will make a definitive decision in your case after hearing arguments from both parties and reviewing evidence concerning the ability of both parents to act as caregivers.
Generally, courts advise parents to "settle" on a custody arrangement outside of the courtroom. That's because, when parents litigate custody, it can increase tensions between the parties and make co-parenting more difficult.
However, in situations where the parents are estranged or strongly disagree on how to handle custody, litigating the matter in court may be the best path forward for both parties.
How Do Texas Courts Determine a Child's Best Interests?
In situations where parties litigate the custody process, most courts consider the following factors during custody disputes:
- Any evidence that showcases the behavior of each parent with the child(ren) so far;
- Whether either parent shows themselves to be "unfit" to act as a caregiver in any way (has a record of abusive or neglectful behavior, abuses illegal substances, etc.);
- The living situation each parent can provide for the child(ren);
- The conduct each parent displays throughout the custody process towards each other and the court;
- The stability of each parent's living situation, and the stability they can provide to the child(ren) as a result;
- The age of the child(ren) and their preferences, assuming they're old and mature enough to have constructive input on the custody arrangement.
When parties litigate a custody dispute, they can use several avenues to represent their caretaking capabilities to the court. In addition to presenting evidence to the court, parents can also take actions such as requesting a third party parenting evaluation to increase their standing with the court.
What Types of Conservatorship Arrangements Are Common in Texas?
In Texas, there are two primary types of conservatorships:
- Joint managing conservatorships (JMCs). Most courts default to a JMC and encourage parents to use this type of conservatorship unless details such as an unfit parent or a parent who cannot provide a child with a stable living situation complicate the case. In a JMC, both parents can house the child (though not always for an equal amount of time), and both can make decisions for the child's wellbeing. Because this type of conservatorship maximizes how much time the parents can spend with the child, many courts see it as the best way of encouraging a child to maintain a healthy relationship with both parents.
- Sole manage conservatorships (SMCs). In an SMC, only one parent can make decisions for the child. The other parent may have visitation rights, meaning they can see the child, but they will not make decisions for them, such as what medical care they receive.
At Hance Law Group, PC, we know how difficult facing a custody battle can feel for parents. We'll work with you, shouldering the legal burden of your case and advocating for a positive outcome so you can focus on maintaining a positive relationship with your child(ren).