Child Custody Lawyer in Flower Mound
Prioritizing Your Needs & Your Child’s Best Interests
Family law matters can be very complex, especially when it comes to child custody. When parents divorce or separate, they may not always agree about what is best for their child. One parent may try to obtain more time with their children than the other parent would like, or perhaps both parents think they should have sole custody of their kids. Sole custody is actually a misnomer under Texas law because Texas follows either a Sole Managing Conservatorship or a Sole Managing Conservatorship.
Whatever the situation, it is important to understand how the court will evaluate these issues, and how judges determine child custody arrangements.
Phillip M. Herr, Attorney at Law, is a former Associate Judge and Flower Mound child custody attorney with more than 16 years of experience and a background that includes numerous awards. He is prepared to help you find a favorable resolution to your child custody dispute, whether through negotiation or litigation.
Give us a call at (469) 314-9216 to request a consultation with Mr. Herr.
The Two Types of Conservatorships
In Texas, custody is referred to as conservatorship. A parent is then called a “conservator” rather than a “custodian.” Unless both parents can agree on the terms of a conservatorship, a family law judge will make the decision for them.
There are two main parenting arrangements: Sole managing conservatorship and joint managing conservatorship. The presumption under Texas law is that a joint managing conservatorship is in the best interest for the child.
Under a joint managing conservatorship, both parents have a role in their child's upbringing and have decision-making rights. Unfortunately, a joint managing conservatorship is not always possible – namely, when it conflicts with the best interests of the child.
A parent who is the sole managing conservator will have complete control over decision making for the child. In the event that a sole managing conservatorship is established, the other parent will likely be granted visitation rights.
Parents named a conservator will have the right to access the health records, right to attend school functions, etc. One area where parents can find disagreement is who has the right to consent to psychological or psychiatric treatment. Or, another area of disagreement is who will have the right to consent to invasive medical treatment for non-emergencies. Generally speaking, under either a SMC or a JMC, a parent would also have the right to consent to medical treatments during an emergency situation.
Handling Custody Disputes
While parents through their own respective attorney may reach an agreed parenting plan, the Court must find that the parenting plan is in the best interest of the child. However, if parents are unable to agree to a parenting plan, then the Judge or a jury will decide what type of parenting plan the parents will have.
Legal and Physical Custody
There are also two categories of custody that can be awarded differently depending on the situation in Texas.
Legal custody – This refers to a parent’s ability to make important long-term decisions regarding the child. This would include things like education, religious activities, medical treatment, etc. It’s possible for either one or both parents to be awarded legal custody.
Physical custody – Just as it sounds, this refers to where the child will physically live. Again this type of custody can belong solely to one parent or it could be shared between both parents.
How Are a Child's Best Interests Determined?
Although joint managing conservatorships are seen as ideal in Texas family law courts, the court will always carefully review a case to ensure that the conservatorship arrangements provide a safe and nurturing environment for the children involved.
When determining the best interest of a child in a Texas custody case, the court may consider:
- The child's desires
- The child’s physical and emotional needs
- Any dangers to the child's safety, including a parent's history of abuse, violence, or substance abuse
- Future plans for the child
- The stability of the home
- Programs available for assistance
- Parental abilities of each parent
State of Texas Re-enforcing Child Support Law
Following a recent Texas Attorney General’s office rule update in 2017, the state will begin implementing a new child support enforcement strategy, which involves preventing driver’s licenses from being renewed. The new tool will be eligible for use against any parent that has not made a child support payment within the last six months. The Attorney General’s office could previously revoke driver’s licenses and licenses pertaining to both professions and recreational activities; the new ruling adds a new barrier by being able to block renewals after a natural expiration or a revocation.
Texas is currently the top state in the country for collecting on child support payments. In the previous fiscal year, it collected close to $4 billion, which was the most collected by any single state within the last nine years. The state hopes that the additional enforcement tool, which will widely be implemented by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), will only further increase their proficiency in collecting and distributing child support payments.
There are opponents to the changes that believe it puts too much power into a noncriminal justice system agency, the DMV, and that it will only hurt the situation more. Some fear that a parent that cannot renew their driver’s license due to missing child support payments is likely in a tough financial spot, and losing the ability to drive freely further inhibits their ability to go to work, earn money, or find gainful employment. Until the changes have been in place for a year or so, the impact of the ruling, negative or positive, will remain speculation.
Modifications Could Provide Relief
Child support payments can become financially crippling for the payer if life changes occur. Even careful planning cannot foresee all the things that could happen that require a sum of money, or remove income. If you have found yourself in such a spot and fear that you could lose your driver’s license soon due to denial or revocation, you may want to consider child support modifications.
With a court’s approval, child support can actually be modified or halted. The challenge is convincing both the court and your ex-spouse that the modifications are necessary. To begin crafting your case and perfecting your argument, contact Flower Mound Divorce Attorney Phillip M. Herr. Our law firm would be happy to explain your legal options to you in more detail.
Call Phillip M. Herr, Attorney at Law, for a Consultation Today
Reach out to us today to learn more about how our Flower Mound child custody attorney can help you navigate your case and fight for a favorable resolution that reflects your needs and your child’s best interests. We are proud to serve our clients with a tradition of excellence, backed by Mr. Herr's 15+ years of legal experience.
Schedule a consultation with a child custody lawyer to get started. Call (469) 314-9216 now.