Need a Custody and Visitation Lawyer?
Houston Child Custody Attorney Supports Texas Parents
In many cases, the most serious and contentious issue divorcing couples will face is child custody. As a Houston custody and visitation lawyer, attorney John Grubb sees firsthand how a custody battle can be extremely expensive and destructive. Therefore, what he learned over the years is that parents who are divorcing need to be free of resentment toward each other, be willing to listen to each other, be willing to communicate with each other, be willing to “give,” and be willing to work together for the benefit of their children. When that is the case, and if you and your spouse can agree on child custody, the court will almost always approve your written child custody agreement. However, if you and your spouse cannot work out an agreement, the court will decide child custody in Texas.
What are the Child Custody Laws in Texas?
In Texas, the court (or the parties by agreement) will:
- Appoint one spouse as the Sole Managing Conservator of the child/children (the party having custody). The other party is the Possessory Conservator of the child/children (the party having visitation).
- Appoint both parents as Joint Managing Conservators of the child/children and then allocate the rights and responsibilities between the parents.
In 1973, Texas adopted the Equal Rights Amendment. It specifically provided that, in deciding custody cases, the court shall consider “the qualifications of the respective parents without regard to the sex of the parent”. Because many working couples share the child-raising responsibilities before separation, and because custody decisions are made without regard to the sex of the parents, many couples prefer to be Joint Managing Conservators.
In 1987, the Texas Legislature adopted the following policy:
It is the policy of this state to assure that children will have frequent and continuing contact with parents who have shown the ability to act in the best interest of the child and to encourage parents who share in the rights and responsibilities of raising their children after the parents have separated or dissolved their marriage.
Texas has now adopted presumptive Joint Managing Conservatorship. The court must appoint both parents as Joint Managing Conservators. This is the case unless it finds that the appointment would significantly impair the child’s physical health or emotional development.
Most Courts specify the geographic area of a child’s primary residence (generally Harris County). The Courts do this so that both parents may be involved in the day to day life of their child. It is possible (although not likely) that the court may give one parent the right to establish the child’s primary residence without regard to the geographic location.
Can I Pursue Sole Child Custody in Texas?
Many people feel that they should be appointed the Sole Managing Conservator of their children. As a result, he/she will have controlling power after divorce, rather than the former spouse. That is not realistic. The Legislature concluded that if both parents have the ability to act more like parents after divorce, their children will benefit. Accordingly, the Legislature has established a detailed set of rights, powers, privileges and duties for both the Sole Managing Conservator and the Possessory Conservator after divorce. Many people review the respective rights, powers, privileges, and duties of both the Sole Managing Conservator and the Possessory Conservator. Then, they conclude that it is not worth fighting to become the Sole Managing Conservator. As a result, their children will be better off if they work out a Joint Managing Conservatorship with their spouse.
Joint Managing Conservator means the sharing of the rights, privileges, duties and powers of a parent by two parties. This is the case even if the Court awards one party exclusive power to make certain decisions. Joint Managing Conservator does not mean that there will be equal or nearly equal periods of physical possession or access to the child by each parent. Frequently, the courts determine primary physical residence of the child(ren).
Many people are against Joint Managing Conservatorships on the grounds that “if they can’t get along while married, they can’t get along after divorce”. In recent years, the trend has been toward Joint Managing Conservatorship. Some people believe that even though two adults are divorcing, they can still work together for the benefit of their children after divorce. Remember, the adults divorce, not the children. If you stop to think about it, children have the right to have two parents after a divorce.
How Can I Avoid an Expensive and Destructive Child Custody Battle?
As a Houston custody and visitation lawyer, I recommend my clients take parenting classes while separated. This then significantly improves their ability to work together for the best interest of the child. Also, I recommend that parents jointly take child discipline classes one to three years after the divorce. This often results in preventing a lot of problems that children often suffer from divorce.
I Need an Experienced Houston Custody and Visitation Lawyer
For legal advice regarding family law and child custody, reach out to our child custody lawyers in Houston. Call us directly at (713)877-8800 regarding your child custody issue in Fort Bend County, Montgomery County or Harris County.