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texas child custody lawyerFor parents who are getting divorced, figuring out how custody and visitation work in Texas can feel overwhelming. Fathers especially may worry that they will lose access to their children once the divorce is finalized. Fortunately, the trend in Texas is moving towards making it easier for both parents to exercise their parental rights equally and maintain a loving relationship with their children. If one of your goals in your Texas divorce is getting custody of your children, read on. 

How Does Child Custody Work in Texas?  

Child custody in Texas is divided into two important areas: conservatorship, or the ability to make important decisions on behalf of a child, and access and possession, or the ability to spend time with a child as their caregiver (also known as visitation). Texas usually names both parents “joint managing conservators,” meaning parents will both participate in the decision-making process no matter how possession and access are allocated. 

Parents are encouraged to work together outside of court to create a parenting agreement that includes details about both conservatorship and access and possession. Parents are more likely to be satisfied with the parenting arrangement when they play an active role in negotiating its details. If parents have a hard time getting along, a mediator can help them reach a compromise. 

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For many couples who are preparing for a divorce, a high conflict, contentious legal battle is the last thing that they want. You and your spouse may prefer to hire attorneys, a mediator, or both, and privately negotiate an agreement that covers things such as asset division and spousal support, in order to leave as little as possible for the court to decide for you.

This approach can be effective, especially when you have complex assets and you want a greater degree of control over negotiations. As such, you may be wondering what you can do to minimize the possibility of a judge modifying or even throwing out your carefully negotiated agreement.

Challenges to an agreement.

In Texas, if there is a challenge to a divorce agreement, the court has the sole discretion to decide whether a couple’s proposed divorce agreement is enforceable in light of the evidence presented. Out of respect for the parties’ right to contract, judges will typically approve any agreement you bring to them, unless a challenge occurs and the challenger is able to prove that the agreement is unconscionable.

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While the relationship between grandparents and grandchildren is often recognized as crucial in a child’s growth and maturity, grandparents do not often enjoy a legal right of access. During a divorce, the parents often ignore the grandparents while discussing custody, visitation and the parenting plan. This results in the eradication of a loving segment of the child’s life. Fortunately, grandparents can fight to retain visitation rights during and after the divorce process concludes.

Even though the court is hesitant to grant custody rights outside of severe circumstances, the courts often find it more reasonable to grant visitation rights. These are not automatic rights, however, and the grandparent must seek to legally establish these rights. Without legal rights established, one of the divorced parents could argue against visitation on numerous grounds, including:

  • Alienation in which the parent argues that the grandparent is turning the child against him or her.
  • Questioning parental authority by openly discussing with the child the incorrect nature of a parent’s rules or punishment.
  • Refusing to follow the parent’s instructions as they relate to a punishment, entertainment restrictions, food restrictions or bedtimes.

Many of these scenarios can quickly deteriorate into heated familial disputes. Even in a he-said-she-said style argument, grandparents are wise to ensure the court has legally protected them from the loss of visitation rights.

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You married your wife who had a young son from a previous relationship. The three of you made a family. You helped raise the boy and participated in family outings at campgrounds, amusement parks and other fun and enlightening activities.

He is your son, and you treat him that way. But after several months of pondering, you want to make it official by adopting him. Understand that not only will the family dynamic change a bit, but so will your responsibilities.

Understand your legal responsibilities

Here are some guidelines to remember when considering a stepparent adoption:

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Getting a divorce can be an uncertain time for both spouses. It can be hard to know where your kids will live, what assets you will keep, and what kind of child support and alimony agreement you will have when things are all said and done. For someone getting a divorce whose spouse provides military benefits to the family, you may be wondering if you can keep those benefits after divorce.

More than 20,000 military couples get a divorce each year, which means that thousands of people need to know what will happen to their benefits as military spouses. There is a system that determines benefits eligibility for divorcing spouses, which you can learn about here:

The 20-20-20 rule

The military has a rule that determines if you are eligible to keep your military benefits after your divorce, which people often refer to as the 20-20-20 rule. The name comes from the three factors your relationship needs to have met before your divorce.

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