Child custody is often one of the most complex and misunderstood aspects of divorce and family law. Mistaken assumptions about child custody and failure to adequately take the interests of the children into account can have damaging long-term consequences.
At Connolly & Shireman in Houston, our attorneys assist our clients in identifying the core issues affecting the parent-child relationship, develop appropriate goals and strategies to resolve those issues, and empower our clients to pursue these goals both during and after the divorce. If you are concerned about child custody, contact us to meet with an experienced family law attorney.
Sorting Out Legal Terminology to Focus on Your Goals
In Texas, the technical legal language for child custody is “conservatorship.” In most cases, both parents are made conservators of their children. A conservatorship can be “managing” or “possessory,” and managing conservatorship can be joint or granted solely to one parent.
Conservatorship includes a wide range of rights, powers and duties over the children, and these can be allocated between the parents in different ways. Therefore, it is important not to get hung up on titles and instead to focus on your practical goals.
The rights, powers, and duties of child custody include not only physical supervision of children but also important issues such as determining the child’s primary residence and making decisions about your child’s education, healthcare, and psychological treatment. Parents can be required to make decisions together or permitted to make decisions independently, or one parent can be given sole decision-making authority in a particular area.
All elements of child custody are subject to later modification if the underlying circumstances change. It is important to keep this in mind throughout the process.
Pursuing Constructive Parenting Plans
Though all elements of child custody are important, the central issue for most parents is physical custody of and regular contact with the child. Divorce is a stressful situation for children, and the courts generally seek continuity by at least initially granting primary custody to the parent who has been the child’s primary caregiver, if one parent has played that role.
The final goal in most cases is to create a cooperative parenting plan that will enable both parents to continue to play constructive roles in the lives of their children. Our lawyers are experienced at working out parenting plans through negotiations and at making our clients’ case for proposed parenting plans to family court judges. Contact us to discuss your options.