Denton Child Custody Attorney
Advocating for What You Know Is Best for Your Child
Two people divorce generally because they cannot see eye-to-eye on important marital issues. It’s really no surprise when one of those areas of disagreement is how the children should be raised.
Disputes over child custody are common in divorce. At Burrows Law Group, our attorneys understand the stress these arguments place on the entire family. Our compassionate and focused representation helps to bring this issue to a resolution that supports the child’s best interests.
Types of Custody (Conservatorship)
The legal term for custody in the Lone Star State is conservatorship. As a matter of public policy, the state has three goals: assuring the children have frequent and continuing contact with both parents (unless deemed unsafe); providing a safe, stable, and nonviolent environment for the child; and encouraging parents to share in the rights and duties of raising their children.
There are three basic types of conservatorship (custody) in Texas.
Sole Managing Conservatorship (SMC). This is similar to what other states often call full legal custody. When a parent is granted SMC, that parent has the authority to make all decisions regarding the child. SMC gives the right to choose where the child lives and what school they attend. This parent can determine what religion, if any, the child follows. Medical decisions like surgeries and vaccines are determined by this parent.
Joint Managing Conservatorship (JMC). In a joint managing conservatorship, both parents share the rights and duties of decision-making for their children. The court prefers granting JMC because it gives both parents equal footing in the lives of their children. It should be noted that even in JMC, the court can choose to grant one parent the decision-making power for where the child lives.
Possessory Conservatorship (PC). Possessory conservatorship is the equivalent of visitation. A parent with PC will be given consistent and frequent parenting time with their children. While they don’t have the legal authority to make decisions, they do legally have access to their children’s medical records and school records. They can also attend their children’s athletic games, artistic recitals, and so forth. They also can also consent to emergency medical attention when the child is with them.
Best Interest of the Child
In previous decades, the “tender years doctrine” was used here and in states across the U.S. This legal principle favored the mother as the children’s primary caretaker. Unless evidence showed that the mother was unfit, moms were presumed to be awarded custody in divorce. That has changed in Texas and elsewhere in the country.
In 1995, the “best interest of the child” was added to Texas law to be the official guiding legal presumption. The court considers the qualifications of both parents without regard to their gender.
The factors considered in determining the best interest of the child include the following:
- The child’s age and physical and mental vulnerabilities
- The child’s emotional and physical needs
- Each parent’s living situation
- The willingness of the parents to support each other’s relationship with the child
- The relationship the child had with each parent prior to the divorce
- Each parent’s level of stability
- The child’s preferences (usually age 12 or older)
- The support system of each parent
Any history of domestic violence or substance abuse will be highly scrutinized by the court.
Child Custody Litigation & Negotiation in Denton County
Divorcing parties have the right to take their grievances before a judge, but that’s not a requirement. Child custody disagreements can often be resolved through negotiation. At Burrows Law Group, our attorneys have extensive know-how in navigating both negotiations and divorce court.
Negotiated child custody agreements are presented to a judge for approval. After the court’s endorsement, the negotiated agreement carries the same weight and enforceability as one determined by a judge.
If an agreement is violated, the court can take multiple actions including suspending the offenders driving or professional license, denying them their passports, placing a lien on property and accounts, and even ordering civil or criminal contempt of court.
Shifts in the lives of the child or parents can necessitate modifying conservatorship orders. Any adjustments must also align with the child’s best interests. Changes are generally only permitted in cases of significant changes in circumstances.
If you have questions about child custody in Denton County, contact us for more information. We offer free consultations. Schedule by calling (972) 703-4004.