8 Ways to Ensure You Retain Custody of Your Child
Nothing can replace the special bond that you have with your child. The involvement of both parents in a child’s life is invaluable. Sadly, when a couple agrees to end their relationship, a child’s sense of comfort is pulled from underneath them.
If you are going through a separation or divorce, you need the attorneys at Mims Ballew Hollingsworth⏐Family Law to guide you through the custody process. If you find yourself dealing with a custody suit, we have the training to devise a strategy to help you retain custody of your child.
Be The Primary Caretaker
Following a divorce or separation, one parent is named as a primary caretaker of a minor child. In being named a primary parent, you will have primary custody of your child, meaning that your child will live with you most of the time.
When a custody suit arises, courts often look at which parent was historically the primary caretaker. This takes into consideration which parent was responsible for preparing meals and transporting the child to after-school activities.
According to Texas Family Code § 153.003, neither the gender of the parent nor marital status is factored into which parent will gain primary custody of the child.
Take Notes on Your Child’s Activities and Routine
A court will examine which parent oversaw daily routines in order to determine who should have primary custody of the child.
You will want to be familiar with the name of your child’s teacher, close friends, and their schedule in order to show a court the involvement you have in your child’s life.
No History of Alcohol or Substance Abuse
Any history of alcohol or substance abuse is taken very seriously by a court and can negatively impact your chances of retaining custody of your child. In fact, there is a higher chance that the other parent may gain sole custody (in Texas, known as sole managing conservator) if the allegations of substance and/or alcohol abuse are verifiable.
However, having a parent named as sole managing conservator does not in itself place restrictions on the other parent’s access or visitation rights.
Use Caution on Social Media
People are not always careful in what they write in text messages, e-mails, or direct messaging. All forms of communication can be submitted as evidence and may be used against you.
Use Caution in Everything You Say
Besides being cautious in written communication, you must also be cautious when speaking on the phone or in person. Texas is a “one-party consent” state, meaning that as long as one party consents to the recording of a conversation, it is legal.
Maintain Good Behavior
In a custody battle, it is important not to lose your temper or speak poorly of your spouse in front of your children. Any negative behavior can be used against you in court.
Retain Expert Witnesses
If you feel that your ex-spouse is mentally incompetent to care for your child, you can hire a mental health professional to evaluate them. Be aware that a court can deny your request and may even order an evaluation of your mental health.
Retain a Southlake Child Custody Lawyer
Our legal team has the knowledge to help you build the strongest case. We will advise you through the entire legal process. If you are seeking sole custody, we will help you gather evidence to present in court to improve your odds of winning.
What If I am not Married?
If a couple is not married, the mother will automatically have legal and physical custody of the child. This is the case even when the father’s name is listed on the birth certificate. In order to gain custody, the father must confirm paternity.
In order to establish paternity, there are two options:
Both parents can sign an Acknowledgement of Paternity (AOP) document establishing the child’s biological parents.
The father can take a DNA test, in which samples are taken from the mother, the proposed father, and the child.
Once the father proves that he is indeed the child’s biological father, the court will determine visitation and custody rights.
Physical v. Legal Custody in Texas
In Texas, physical custody is referred to as a possessory conservatorship, and legal custody is referred to as a managing conservatorship.
While retaining physical custody means that you will have the right to visit (in Texas, known as “access”) your child, legal custody refers to the ability to make decisions about your child’s educational, medical, mental health, and other related decisions.
In Texas, if both parents cannot agree on custody arrangements, a court will decide based on the best interests of the child.
Unless one party has a history of violence or substance abuse, Texas law dictates that parents should be joint managing conservators, allowing both parents to have the following rights:
- Receive information from any other conservator concerning the child’s health, education, and welfare;
- Confer with the other parent to the extent possible before making a decision concerning the health, education, and welfare of the child;
- access to the child’s medical, dental, psychological, and educational records;
- Consult with the child’s physician, dentist, or psychologist;
- Consult with school officials concerning the child’s welfare and educational status, including school activities;
- Attend school activities;
- be designated on the child’s records as a person to be notified in case of an emergency;
- consent to medical, dental, and surgical treatment during an emergency involving an immediate danger to the health and safety of the child; and
- Manage a child’s estate created by the parent or the parent’s family.
A Southlake Child Custody Lawyer Near You
If you find yourself in a child custody battle, you need attorneys who will never stop advocating on your behalf. The child custody lawyers at Mims Ballew Hollingsworth⏐Family Law have over 75 collective years of experience fighting for parents’ custody rights in Southlake, Fort Worth, Denton, and nearby cities. We know the importance of placing your child’s welfare first. Contact us today to schedule your consultation.