Child Custody Attorney in Fort Worth, Texas
When you have children with someone who’s not a spouse or domestic partner, you need to establish a custody arrangement that you’re both comfortable with. As anyone with a child knows, this can be an agonizing decision—because no parent wants to give up precious time they can spend with their child.
For help establishing child custody and a parenting time plan, reach out to Kim Hamilton Attorney at Law. Located in Fort Worth, Texas, Attorney Kim Hamilton also represents clients throughout Johnson County, Tarrant County, and the entire state of Texas.
Establishing a Child Custody Arrangement
There are two basic options that parents have when they need to establish a child custody arrangement:
Option 1: You and your co-parent can decide together how you’ll divide time with your child, then submit your plan to the court for approval. It’s possible that you can manage these choices on your own, but many people find it helpful to work with a mediator to facilitate productive conversations or to consult with a family law attorney. Regardless of your approach, you will not be depending on a judge to make decisions for you.
Option 2: If you’re unable to productively communicate with your co-parent, you may need to turn your case over to the court where a judge will listen to arguments from each parent then make a custody determination based on their professional evaluation. This option is almost always more expensive since both parents will be encouraged to have a lawyer represent them, and it will take longer. If possible, it’s always recommended to try working with a mediator first.
Types of Custody (Conservatorship) in Texas
There are also two types of custody that will need to be discussed and decided upon, legal custody and physical custody (Note that in Texas, custody is referred to as “conservatorship”).
Legal Custody: Called a “managing conservatorship” in Texas, this refers to the major decisions that need to be made in a child's life such as their education, medical care, and religious upbringing. This role can either be shared by both parents (joint custody) or be awarded to just one parent (sole custody).
Physical Custody: Another form of custody is called “possessory conservatorship,” and this refers to where the child will physically be living on any given day. Like legal custody, physical custody can either be shared by both parents, or, one parent can have sole possessory conservatorship while the other is granted visitation rights.
Factors Considered in Determining Custody
If you’ve decided to turn to a judge to evaluate your case, you’ll want to know what factors will be considered in granting custody. On a broad level, a judge will always make custody decisions based on the best interests of the child. To do so, they will consider multiple factors, including but not limited to:
the capability of each parent to provide for their child
where each parent will be living and how this would affect the child
the willingness of each parent to promote a healthy relationship with the other parent
the child’s wishes (if they’re deemed mature enough)
the physical and emotional needs of the child
any past actions by the parents that may indicate their parental fitness
Modifying an Existing Child Conservatorship Order
Making a modification of child custody is a standard procedure in family court, but it’s also a matter that must be done in accordance with the law and the best interests of the child.
In general, if both parents can agree to a change, they can work together to write up their modification petition and present it to the court for approval. If a judge decides that the child is still being well cared for and continues to have a meaningful relationship with each parent, it will likely be approved.
However, if only one parent is requesting a change, they will need to provide proof of a major life event that has changed their circumstances so that the existing custody arrangement is no longer viable. Examples of changes like this could be:
one parent gaining or losing a job
one parent being forced to move far away due to job
the needs of the child have changed
one parent has failed to uphold their end of the existing agreement
In these cases, a judge will review your petition and request information from the other parent before deciding whether a modification will be granted. To seek the best outcome for you and your children, make sure you consult with a compassionate family law attorney in your area with experience handling child custody cases. If you live in the Fort Worth area, place your trust in Attorney Kim Hamilton.
Child Custody Attorney in Fort Worth, Texas
Whether you need help coming up with a child custody arrangement that’s fair and considerate to all parties involved, or you need help modifying an existing agreement, contact Kim Hamilton Attorney at Law, serving those in and around Fort Worth, Texas. Attorney Kim Hamilton will provide you with the courageous and committed legal counsel you deserve.