Child Custody & Visitation

In Texas, the term “custody” does not appear in the Family Code but is generally referred to as “conservatorship.” Conservatorship means the right a parent has to make certain decisions relating to his or her child. These decisions include the right to determine where the child lives, the right to determine where the child goes to school and to make other educational decisions for the child, the right to consent to certain medical procedures, and other specific rights, as set out in the Texas Family Code. These rights can be shared by the parents or one parent may hold these rights exclusively. One parent may have more rights than the other parent or the parents may share the rights.

When deciding child custody, the court in Texas evaluates what is in the best interest of the child. The court will also do its best to ensure that parents share in the rights and duties of raising their child together. However, if there is a history of domestic violence or abuse in the home, then the court may award the abusive parent visitation only if it finds that the child would not be endangered or if there are orders for the protection of the child.

The Family law attorneys at The Pinkerton Law Firm will help you to serve your goals and the needs of your child in the following circumstances:

  • Paternity issues
  • Creative custody and visitation agreements
  • Creating custody schedules for infants
  • Stepparent rights
  • Grandparent rights
  • Visitation agreements
  • Child and parent relocation
  • International custody
  • Child support
  • Fathers’ rights
  • Child Protective Services (CPS) issues
  • Termination of parental rights
  • Adoption
  • Modification of custody and visitation agreements
  • Enforcement of orders

Modifying Divorce Decree, Custody, Visitation & Child Support

The terms of a divorce decree can be changed through a process called modification. A court can modify provisions for custody (conservatorship), visitation, and child support. A request to modify custody, visitation or child support must be filed in the court that last entered an order regarding the children.

The grounds for a change of divorce decree, custody, visitation, possession of a child are complex and should be discussed with our attorney. The court may consider whether there has been a significant change in the circumstances of the parties or of the child, or whether a person with visitation rights has been convicted of child abuse or family violence, or maybe he or she repeatedly fails to exercise them or whether a person with visitation rights has a significant history of alcohol or drug abuse. The court may also consider whether there has been a significant change in circumstances of the parties or the child, whether the visitation order is unworkable or inappropriate

Please read the questions and answers structured below as it may relate to your case to familiarize yourself with the process. Also, please give us a call at 713-360-6722 for a free consultation.

Who can file a request to modify an order regarding children?

Generally, any person who is affected by the court order can request a modification.

Do I have to wait a certain amount of time before I can file a motion to modify custody?

Generally, no. However, if you are seeking to change custody less than one year after the original order was signed, then the court has special requirements that you must show in a sworn affidavit before the suit can go forward. In the case of an emergency, the timing of the suit is usually not an issue. But in other circumstances, it is probably wise to wait at least one year before you attempt to change custody.

At what age can my child choose where to live?

A child 12 years or older may file a document with the court naming the parent with whom the child wishes to live; however, this choice is not binding on the court because the court must also consider what is in the child’s best interests.

How can I get legal custody if my child is living with me but the other parent has court-ordered custody?

If the person having custody of the child under the last court order voluntarily leaves the child in the possession of another for a period of more than six months and the court finds that this arrangement is in the best interest of the child, the court may modify custody upon the filing of the proper motion with the court.

What are the reasons (grounds) that a court will modify child support?

Child support may be increased or decreased if there has been a substantial change in circumstances of the parties or the needs of the child. Child support can also be modified if it has been at least three years since the last child support order and the new amount calculated under the child support guidelines differs by either 20% or $100.00 from the amount of support currently ordered.

If I am being deployed on military duty, may I designate someone to exercise my possession periods?

Yes. If you are being deployed outside the country, you may petition the court to allow you to designate another person who will be able to have possession of the child for some portion of your regular possession periods. This designation will end upon the termination of your overseas deployment.

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