If you cannot imagine living without your children, then do not attempt to go through a child custody case on your own.

If you cannot imagine living without your children, then do not attempt to go through a child custody case on your own.

When it comes to child custody cases, often, the stress and negative emotions involved can interfere with a parent’s ability to recognize the best interests of the child. At Toombs Imel & Associates, we recognize that the parent-child relationship is vital to each child’s physical and emotional development.

Trying to represent yourself is not a wise decision. The court system is complex and the stakes are too high. You could end up losing custody. Hiring an experienced, compassionate child custody lawyer is essential to protect your parental rights.

Child Custody

Understanding the difference: Sole vs. Joint Conservatorship

In Texas, custody is termed conservatorship and refers to the allocation of responsibilities and rights of parents to their children and the level of decision-making rights each parent has regarding the upbringing, education, and health care of the child.

There are two main types of conservatorship: sole and joint conservatorship.

Sole conservatorship (sole custody) consists of one parent having the legal right to make all decisions regarding the child’s welfare. The child lives with the sole custodial parent, but the other parent may still have visitation rights.

Joint conservatorship consists of both parents sharing in the decisions concerning a child’s welfare. The child also lives with both parents based on a schedule implemented by the court or by the agreement of the parties.

Even if a court appoints you as a joint managing conservator, it still has the discretion to allocate the rights and duties between you and your spouse.

The big rights related to medical decisions, mental health decisions, where the child’s primary residence will be located, educational decisions, and child support. These rights can be held jointly by agreement, independently, or awarded exclusively to one party.

Learn More

Possession and Access: 50/50 is Not Standard

While certain states are trending towards a 50/50 allocation of time between parents, Texas is not yet following suit. In Texas, what is termed a “Standard Possession Order” is presumed to be in the best interest of a child.

Under a Standard Possession Order, different periods are allocated for parents living 50 miles or less apart, over 50 but not more than 100 miles apart, and over 100 miles apart.

The non-custodial parent (the parent without the right to determine the primary residence) has possession and access to the child every 1st, 3rd, and 5th weekend of the month and every Thursday during the regular school term.

These periods either begin and end at the time school is dismissed or resumes (also referred to as “elections” or an Expanded Standard Possession Order) or at another designated time.

The elections are automatically applied to parents residing 50 miles or less apart, unless the parties otherwise agree, the non-custodial parent declines to exercise the same, or the court finds that limiting the application of the elections would be in the best interest of the child.

Summers tend to favor the non-custodial parent in that he or she continues to exercise the weekends and has the right to an additional 30 days during the summer.

Holidays (Christmas, Thanksgiving, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day) and Spring Break are split between the parties and allocated between even and odd years for Christmas, Thanksgiving and Spring Break

The non-custodial parent elects either to exercise the 1st, 3rd and 5th weekends of the month or, alternatively, one weekend per month of that parent’s choosing. This alternative election must be made within 90 days after the parties begin residing over 100 miles apart.

In lieu of Thursdays, the non-custodial parent has visitation rights every Spring Break and for 42 additional days during the Summer. Holidays remain the same as if the parents were residing 100 miles or less apart.

No. The answer does not change for so long as the child is under 18. However, if a child is 12 years of age or older, if requested by a party, a court must interview the child in chambers to determine the child’s preference. That preference is not binding on the court and is only one factor considered in determining the best interest of the child.

If a child is under 12 years of age, a court has the discretion to interview the child but is not required to do so.

Can a non-parent pursue custody?

Step-parents, grandparents, and other members of the child’s extended family that are within the third-degree of consanguinity (think aunts, uncles) may have standing to pursue custody of a child based on certain factors and standards.

Child custody rights are extremely complicated, especially for non-parents, and each case is unique.

At Toombs Imel & Associates, our dedicated family law attorneys will guide you through the process and will fight to ensure the best interests of the child are protected.