Whether your marriage has been on the rocks for a while or you never imagined you’d find yourself holding those papers, a divorce is one of the most stressful and difficult events you can experience in life. The end of a marriage is emotionally overwhelming, and it’s much more challenging when children are involved.
Setting up a child custody arrangement that works for your family is extremely important. It’s also something you don’t need to do on your own. At The Law Office of Aaron Fonseca, I can help you pursue the best legal path for your family during this difficult time.
With my background in psychology and a passion for staying current with the law, I strive to provide the best possible representation for my clients. It’s always my goal to work for you and your family’s best interests. My firm — The Law Office of Aaron Fonseca — proudly serves clients in Edinburg, Texas, and McAllen, Mission, and throughout the Rio Grande Valley.
Setting up a child custody arrangement that works for your family can be a complicated task. In Texas, there are two main options for establishing a child custody arrangement.
Your first option is that you and the other parent can draw up your own terms and present them to the court for approval. You discuss, set, and agree upon your child custody arrangement outside without going into a courtroom.
Whenever possible, this is the route that you should want to take. It is the quickest, least expensive, and most painless option. To make sure the custody arrangement conversation stays productive and on track, you can work with a knowledgeable family law attorney.
It’s possible that you and the other parent are unable to come to an agreement. One parent may refuse to compromise on a certain issue, leading to an impasse. If this is your situation, then the case will go to family court. The judge will use their best judgment in establishing your child custody arrangement.
If one parent won’t agree to a child custody arrangement, a family law attorney will help you present your case to the court and give you the best chance of securing the arrangement that you know is best for your family.
In Texas, there are two main types of custody: joint custody and sole custody. In a joint custody arrangement, both parents are named Joint Managing Conservators (JMCs) of their child or children. In most cases, the court will order joint custody. If there are extreme circumstances that lead the court to believe one parent should not have custody, such as in cases of domestic violence, then the court will instead award sole custody.
In sole custody, one parent is named the Sole Managing Conservator (SMC) of the child. Sole custody can limit or take away the rights of non-custodial parents to make decisions for the child.
It’s also important to know that in joint custody arrangements, one parent will be the child’s custodial parent. The child’s primary residence will be with the custodial parent, and the child will typically live with them a majority of the time.
In Texas, the policy is that a child should have frequent contact with both of their parents — unless there are extreme circumstances, such as domestic violence or child abuse. There should be no discrimination based on gender or marital status as to who gets custody.
The best interests of the child are always the leading factor in determining custody. The judge will also look at factors such as whether each parent can encourage a positive relationship between the child and the other parent, the geographical closeness of the parents’ residence, and the child’s physical, psychological, and emotional growth.
Determining visitation, or how much time each parent should have with their child, can be a complicated process. If the parents can agree on a visitation schedule, then that schedule will most likely be accepted by the judge and put into the child custody arrangement.
If the parents can’t agree on a visitation schedule, then the schedule will be set by the court. Typically, a judge will create a visitation order, which is called a Standard Possession Order (SPO), based on certain guidelines. The SPO is used for children who are 3 years old or older.
There are certain major life events that give you the opportunity to request a modification to your existing child custody agreement.
For example, if one parent loses a job, isn’t holding up their end of the agreement, or re-marries someone who also has children, those events could open the door to change the current child custody agreement.
Establishing a child custody arrangement, or modifying an existing arrangement, can be difficult. You need an advocate at your side to help you through this challenging time. At The Law Office of Aaron Fonseca, I put my clients and their families first. I serve clients in Edinburg, Texas, McAllen, Mission, and throughout the Rio Grande Valley. Call my office today.