Child-Custody determination – The plan for the next few blogs is to dive into divorce suits affecting the parent-child relationship. To this point we have mostly discussed suits that do not involve children. While painful in their own right, these suits keep the court from having to deal with a much bigger issue – your children and their best interests.
I have long been a champion for children’s rights, and from my experience, suits affecting the parent-child relationship are much more detailed and emotion-filled. How could they not be? It is a slippery slope where the court – not you – must decide what is in the best interest of your child. It is fact driven, and in some cases, can lead to the complete termination of a parent-child relationship.
This topic is complex, to say the least, so I’d like to start by simply defining child custody and how it is determined. We will tackle much broader issues as we move forward.
Per the Texas Family Code, child custody is a judgement, decree, or other court order that provides for legal custody, physical custody, or visitation of a child.
When I say “legal custody” I am referring to who manages the child’s best interests and the legal term used in Texas is Conservator.
When I say, “physical custody” I am referring to who will actually supervise and care for the child daily.
The term “visitation” simply means how often a divorcing spouse/parent is allowed to see their child and in Texas this is referred to as possession and access.
A child-custody determination can be a permanent, temporary, original, or modified court order. What it cannot do is have anything to do with child support or monetary obligations. A child-custody determination can result from any of the following:
*A suit to establish conservatorship of a child
*A suit for possession of an access to a child
*A suit to terminate the parent-child relationship.
When all is said and done, it is the goal of the court to provide a stable and caring home for the child while promoting a meaningful relationship with the other parent. If you focus on what your kids need (their best interests) and less on what you want, you will make better choices during the proceedings. Furthermore, if you are required to testify in your case and your actions have been motivated by your kids’ best interests, the court will take notice – and that is a good thing.
Finally, you must work harder to be a co-parent when there are children in the mix – before, during, and after the divorce. So be selfless. Be respectful of each other, keep adult conversations separate, share responsibility, and make sure your children understand this is not their fault. Help them feel safe and accepted even when you are hurting.
If you are considering ending your marriage or the relationship with the other parent of your child, I urge you to seek counsel from a knowledgeable attorney who will keep your family’s best interests in mind – whether you have children or not. Our staff at Nelson Law Group, PC. is always available. Give us a call today.