You tried your best, but you could not make your marriage work. Divorce is imminent. And it is perfectly natural to feel angry, frustrated, disappointed, and frightened. However, you cannot allow these emotions to dampen your will to fight for a just settlement. You have real interests that must be protected as you dissolve your union with your spouse. Foremost among them are your parental rights.
The end of your marriage should not put an end to your relationship with your child. You still have a right to help raise them and you can best secure that right by retaining the services of a family law attorney.
Preserving Your Parental Rights
In the state of Texas, it is presumed that the child’s interests are best served by having a close relationship with both parents. Once the parenting relationship is established by the court, the parties are made joint managing conservators of the child.
One of them will be designated the custodial parent. Their residence will be the primary residence of the child. The custodial parent will have the right to receive monetary child support and to spend these funds in ways that benefit the child.
The court will also establish the rights, duties, and responsibilities of each parent. These can be assigned to each parent independently, to both parents by agreement, or exclusively to one parent.
Here are some of the rights that the court will divide:
- the right to consent to medical, dental, and surgical treatment involving invasive procedures
- the right to consent to psychiatric and psychological treatment
- the right to represent the child in legal action
- the right to consent to marriage
- the right to consent to enlistment in the Armed Forces of the United States
- the right to make decisions concerning the child’s education
Keep in mind that if you both have the right to decide an issue and cannot come to an agreement, then nothing happens. For example, if your child gets sick and you consent to a particular medical treatment and your ex does not, then the child will not get the treatment. If these sorts of disagreements persist and it is found that the parents cannot communicate at all, the court may designate one parent the sole managing conservator, which would give them sole custody of the child and all the rights listed above exclusively.
You will also need to deal with the issue of geographic restriction. You and your ex will, of course, move on after the divorce. You will meet new people and establish new lives. However, it is important to protect your right to see your child regularly. If your ex is the custodial parent, meets someone, and that person plans to move to another city for business or family reasons, they may want to go with them and take your child. You can ask the court to restrict the child’s residence to a certain geographic area, usually their county of residence and the surrounding area. The court will almost always do so, which means your ex cannot take your child away from you without your consent.
Will the Court Appoint an Attorney for Child Custody?
In some instances, a court-appointed attorney will get involved in a child custody case. This happens when there are pleadings to terminate one of the parent’s parental rights. It also happens when the court is asked to hold one of the parties in contempt and asked that they be confined to jail. In such cases, the court may appoint a lawyer to represent the parents. The OAG represents the state of Texas, which has an interest in assuring that its children are supported, especially if those children are receiving benefits from the state, like food stamps. This only happens in child support cases, not in termination of enforcement.
Why You Need a Family Lawyer
You should not count on a court-appointed attorney to deal with custody issues. You will need to hire a family law attorney for this purpose. The process of resolving custody issues need not be contentious. If possible, you should try to work out a settlement with your ex that allows you both to put the needs and interests of the child first. This is the best way to avoid having the court take control of your child’s life.
A fair custody arrangement can best be worked out by a lawyer who has extensive expertise and experience in developing productive co-parenting agreements. You may not know exactly what to do to reach such a settlement. A lawyer who has devoted their practice to reaching sound co-parenting agreements will help you safeguard your interests as you negotiate child support, child custody, and conservatorship issues with your ex.
If you are going through a custody negotiation of any kind, you need legal representation. You should contact our office today for a free consultation.