One of the most painful parts of the divorce process for many couples is determining child custody. It can be a difficult decision that causes a great deal of stress to both parents and children. In such a difficult and stressful time, people sometimes forget that the purpose of child custody decisions is to place children with the parent that is going to provide the best care and support. Parents’ opinions as to who this should differ on occasion. Your Austin child custody lawyer will be able to help you understand the process of child custody and aid in the settling of any disputes.
In most family situations, the majority of parenting decisions and parenting input comes from one parent, not two. Whether this is the child’s mother or father is irrelevant. Both parents are likely to be able to agree on who has provided the majority of parental support. Your Austin child custody attorney will be able to help you through the process of determining who that parent is.
There are significant obstacles to some parents exercising their parental duties. A parent that is required to take frequent business trips or work irregular hours is less likely to be awarded primary custody. The goal of child custody decisions in Texas is to place the child in the home that is best for them. A parent that works regular hours and that spends most of their time at home is clearly a better choice.
If your child or children are over twelve, their opinion counts, too. An interview of your child will allow their opinions to be known. They are of an age where they are able to express themselves lucidly. This can have a significant impact on the outcome of a child custody decision. Note that children under the age of twelve will not be consulted. If you have any questions related to this aspect of the process, then your Austin child custody lawyer will be able to clarify them for you.
Abuse, neglect, drug use, and inappropriate behavior can all have a decisive impact. The goal as stated before is to place a child with a parent that can provide the greatest support. It is highly unlikely that a child would be given to a parent that is proven abusive or neglectful. If a parent is found to be a regular drug user, it is unlikely that they will be awarded custody. These factors can also have an impact on visitation rights.
In most situations, child custody lawyers will try to resolve the issue amicably. Custody disputes can be extremely stressful for children. Difficult divorces have been shown to lead to negative behavior and can affect academic performance adversely. Your Austin child custody lawyer should be able to help you through custody decisions as painlessly as possible.
Regardless of the outcome of your child custody case, parents are entitled to visitation. The non-custodial parent’s visitation rights are clearly defined in Texas law.
Prior to the 20th century, the majority of common law jurisdictions treated children as the “property” of the father. This meant that when a divorce occurred, the father typically got custody of the children and the mother usually got nothing. In the 20th century, the development of psychological science led to most jurisdictions adopting the “tender years” doctrine. This doctrine holds that, except for cases of extraordinary conditions, any young children should always be placed with their mother. Unfortunately, both methods are flawed.
The Father’s Rights Movement came about due to the belief and perception that fathers were not being given equal treatment during child custody litigation. The groups currently hold the beliefs and goals of:
- Obtaining recognition that a “traditional” division of parental roles during a marriage does not mean that a father shouldn’t be considered for custody after a divorce. A father may not be the primary caregiver but can still be active in his children’s lives.
- Children are best served by being in the care of both of their parents. When this is taken into account, there should be a legal presumption of joint physical custody and equal parenting time.
- Fathers are at a disadvantage throughout the entire custody litigation process.
The Father’s Rights Movement is not made up of just fathers. Individuals who participate are frequently the siblings of fathers or even second wives who have seen their spouses caught up in a brutal custody battle.
Child Custody and Religious Upbringing
The current cultural climate of America involves an increasing amount of inter-faith marriage and an even higher rate of divorce. This combination has led to a dramatically increasing number of situations in which divorced parents come to be at odds over the religious upbringing of their children.
Courts are leery of imposing any restrictions on the parenting rights of either parent and in most cases rule to allow both religious influences and practices to continue. In all conflicts, the court will attempt to settle in a manner that is in the best interests of the child.
Restrictions of Parenting Rights
The first amendment has been interpreted to grant parents the right to expose their children to any religious teachings and practices they see fit. It is rare for a judge’s decision to deviate from this norm, even in sole custody arrangements as the non-custodial parent retains parenting privilege even when joint custody is not awarded.
The exception to this rule is when it can be demonstrated that the religious practice or teaching in question causes actual or substantial harm to the child. In such a situation, a court order may be issued curtailing the practice in question.
How Can a Family Lawyer Help with Divorce and Child Custody?
When you are considering divorce, the prospect of all the changes that will occur in your life can be overwhelming. The last thing that most people want to do is involve a family lawyer to help them sort through their problems, but it can be a very valuable decision to make. In truth, a qualified and compassionate lawyer may increase the chances that your divorce settlement and child custody agreement will be fair.
What about Uncontested Divorce?
Even in the event of an uncontested divorce, where both parties can agree on how to divide their assets, it is beneficial to have a lawyer. The assumption is that an attorney is not necessary in these situations, but without one your needs may go unmet and your rights may be violated in these or other areas:
- Child Support
- Visitation Rights
- Child Custody
The terms of your divorce will affect you and your children as you try to move forward and deal with the changes in your life.
Types of Custody
The already complicated issue of divorce becomes more complex when children are involved. It is in these cases that it is especially important that all of your options are explored. Depending on the circumstances of your divorce, different types of custody may be best:
- Sole Custody: legal and physical custody belongs to only one parent.
- Joint Custody: in this case, both parents are custodial parents, sharing both legal and/or physical custody.
- Split Custody: involves multiple children, some being in the sole custody of one parent, and some in the sole custody of the other.
In order to prevent unnecessary problems or complications, it is important that you have qualified help in the form of an experienced family law attorney.