WYNNE LAW FIRM

Fort Worth Family Law Attorneys

Texas Child Custody Basics

I know my family best. Why should I hire a Texas child custody lawyer?

Fights over child custody in Texas are extremely personal. After all, your children are at stake. Some divorcing spouses think that they are the best person to litigate the case. They may worry that a lawyer will miss something, will judge them, or will simply be too expensive. This is a terrible, and potentially irreversible, mistake. Child custody law is complicated. A missed filing deadline, misunderstanding of a precedent or statute, or poorly written brief can cost you your case—and your children. Texas child custody lawyers are experts in all aspects of child custody law, and can position you to win your case. Unblinded by emotion, your lawyer will act as your advocate and ally, guiding you through the process, supporting you to make the best possible decisions for your children and family, and positioning you to win your custody case.

Is it better to settle a child custody case, or go to court?

That depends. If it’s possible to settle the case, a settlement is always preferable. There are two reasons: first, a settlement saves money. Trials are expensive and costly, not to mention extremely stressful for your child. Second, and even more important, a settlement gives you more control over your own life. If you litigate the case, your schedule for the next decade or more could be determined by a judge or jury who does not know you. You will be legally bound to follow this schedule if you and your ex can’t agree to something better. With a settlement, you and your ex can craft a custody arrangement that works for your schedule, your child’s needs, and the unique demands of your life.

Who gets custody of a child in a Texas divorce?

Texas law doesn’t give preference to either parent, and under the law, sex is irrelevant in child custody decisions. Instead, child custody can be determined in two ways: by a mutual agreement of the parents. This process, called a settlement, allows parents to craft a child custody order that must be approved by a judge. If you and your ex can’t agree to a settlement, then the court will decide who gets custody. The court uses a standard called the “best interests” standard. This means the judge will examine a range of factors to determine a custody arrangement that is in your child’s best interests.

Note that Texas law recognizes that children need both parents. Thus it is almost never in a child’s best interests to be completely deprived of a relationship with one parent. Unless your ex poses a serious and demonstrable threat to your child, he or she will receive some visitation—even if you are the superior parent.

Can a judge reject a child custody settlement agreement?

The court system is already clogged, and so judges have a strong interest in getting the parties to a child custody case to resolve the case. This is especially true because it’s almost always in a child’s best interests to have his or her parents resolve the case on their own rather than drag their fight in front of a judge. So in virtually all cases, the judge will sign off on the settlement with nary a second thought.

There are some exceptions. A judge’s ultimate job is to determine what’s in the best interests of the child. If a custody agreement is clearly not in a child’s best interests, a judge might reject it, but this is rare. For example, a judge might reject an agreement that had a child going back and forth between the houses every single day, or that exposed a child to a potentially dangerous person. Otherwise, as long as the agreement seems reasonably tailored to meet the child’s needs, the judge is likely to accept it.

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FORT WORTH OFFICE 2630 WEST FREEWAY, SUITE 218 FORT WORTH, TX 76102
GRAPEVINE OFFICE 128 E. TX. Street Grapevine, TX 76051
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