You need to file for custody - now what? Family law lawyers explain
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Filing for custody can be a difficult process to navigate. At the outset, you may be wondering what the court will consider when making a determination, what visitation could look like, and what the possible outcomes of your case are.
At Tess House Law, our family law lawyers understand what you might be feeling right now. We’ve guided many families through the child custody process in San Antonio, TX, and have provided skilled legal representation during their most difficult times. If you are thinking about filing for child custody, we’ve prepared a quick guide below that explains what you can expect:
What to expect when filing for child custody in Texas
Physical and legal custody
When filing for custody, it’s important to understand that the state of Texas recognizes both physical and legal custody. Legal custody refers to a parent’s right to raise the child and make important decisions, such as choosing the child’s school, whether the child will have a religious upbringing, and what sports or activities the child can participate in.
Physical custody refers to possession, so the child will reside with whichever parent is granted physical custody. In Texas, the parent with physical custody is technically known as the “possessory conservator,” and the parent with legal custody is known as the “managing conservator.”
The court’s preference for joint custody
In our family law lawyers’ experience, Texas courts generally prefer for parents to equally share custody whenever possible, unless there is neglect, domestic abuse, or other parental misconduct. If shared custody is granted, this means that both parents can equally participate in raising the child. This includes making important decisions about the day-to-day upbringing of the child.
While it’s possible for both parents to share managing and possessory conservatorship, this isn’t always practical. To simplify things, the court usually grants both parents managing conservatorship, and then the child will live with one parent. In most cases, the non-custodial parent will be given visitation rights.
How the court makes its determination
When making a determination, the court will primarily consider the best interests of the child. This includes various factors, such as:
The child’s preferences, if the child is at least 12 years old.
The current (and future) emotional and physical needs of the child.
Each parent’s ability to prioritize the child’s mental and physical wellbeing.
Whether both parents can maintain and encourage a positive relationship between the child and the other parent.
Whether the parents can provide a stable home life.
Any other relevant factors.
If a parent is found to be unfit according to the court, then sole custody will be granted to one parent, which gives them managing and possessory conservatorship. In the event one parent doesn’t agree with the determination, they have a right to file a petition seeking child custody modification. This process can be lengthy and contentious, so our family law lawyers suggest you seek legal counsel.
Do you need to file for child custody? Contact our family law lawyers in San Antonio, TX
The family law lawyers of Tess House Law are here for you, whether you’re facing a divorce, child custody battle, or you’re seeking child support. We have assisted families in San Antonio with various family law matters, and you can count on us to provide the compassion and expertise you need. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.