Dallas Child Custody Attorneys
Fighting to Protect You & Your Child's Rights in Dallas and Austin, TX
As a parent involved in a custody battle, you may fear that you'll receive less time with your child than you deserve. At DebnamRust, P.C., our experienced Dallas child custody attorneys will advocate fiercely for you and your child's rights in and out of the courtroom.
Types of Custody in Texas
Texas family law code doesn't use the term "custody" anymore. Instead, parents are called "conservators," and custody arrangements are called "conservatorships."
Custody disputes often arise as part of the divorce process, but they can also occur between unmarried parents who live apart and disagree on how to share conservatorship or in a wide range of other less common situations.
There are two basic types of custody:
- Legal custody: governs a parent's ability to make decisions concerning their child's rights and day-to-day care, such as the education they receive, how their healthcare works, etc.
- Physical custody: governs a parent's ability to possess their child (have their child live with them).
Types of Conservatorships in Texas
The physical and legal custody each parent has depends on the type of conservatorship they maintain. There are two types of conservatorships:
- Joint managing conservatorship (JMC). In a JMC, both parents have physical and legal custody. The parents have a possession order detailing exactly how they'll split time with their child, but the child may live with both parents. Whichever parent the child lives with a majority of the time is the custodial parent, and the other caretaker is the non-custodial parent. Courts tend to default to JMC arrangements under the assumption having consistent access to both conservators is positive for a child's well-being.
- Sole managing conservatorship (SMC). In an SMC, only one parent has physical custody (possession) and sometimes legal custody of the child. Courts often establish an SMC when one parent is considered "unfit," typically due to engaging in actions such as substance abuse, child abuse, or other behavior that makes it unsafe for a child to live with them. Whichever parent the child lives with in an SMC is named the sole managing conservator, and the other parent is called the possessory conservator.
Types of Possession Orders
As mentioned above, parents can use a possession order to determine how they split time with their child in a JMC (or in an SMC if the possessory conservator has visitation rights).
There are four types of possession orders:
- A standard possession order, which utilizes Texas-specific guidelines for time-sharing (such as granting the non-custodial parent possession for the 1st, 3rd, and 5th weekends of each month, alternating holidays, Thursday evenings, and 30 days during summer vacation with the child).
- A modified possession order, which doesn't follow the guidelines established by a standard possession order and instead utilizes a unique arrangement drafted by the parents.
- A possession order for a child under three, which features unique guidelines for younger children.
- A supervised possession order, which a possessory conservator can use to visit a child they do not have physical or legal custody of.
Factors Courts Consider During Custody Cases
If parents can't agree on an appropriate conservatorship for their child, they may need to rely on the court to establish conservatorship on their behalf. In such cases, courts consider a wide range of factors, including:
- The age and health of each parent;
- Each parent's history of conduct with the child;
- Each parent's living situation;
- The capability of each parent to care for the child;
- How a potential arrangement would impact the child;
- Any other factors the court considers relevant to the case.
At DebnamRust, P.C., our Dallas child custody attorneys are here to help you navigate your custody case and fight for an outcome that enables you and your child to thrive. We've got your back every step of the way.