Determining child custody is can be of the most emotional parts of getting a divorce. Divorce forces parents to share parenting in a new way that may be uncomfortable. In order for your concerns to be heard, it is critical to work with a compassionate and knowledgeable divorce attorney. Craig Michalk will represent your interests and keep you informed and help you reach the best outcome possible.
How is Child Custody Awarded in Bedford, Texas?
Texas encourages parents to develop their own custody agreement on their own or through mediation. Mediation is an out-of-court process where a neutral decision-maker (the mediator) helps the parties reach a mutual agreement which addresses sharing time, how decisions will be made, and outlines each parents obligations. In the parenting agreement, the parents can choose where the child will live, how often the child will see their noncustodial parent, and who will make decisions regarding the child. In almost all circumstances, the judge will approve the custody agreement because the judge trust you have taken the time and energy to develop a plan that is compatible to your family’s circumstances. It will only be denied if it raises serious concerns about the child’s well-being, so you, with the assistance of the attorneys, need to keep the best interest of the child ahead of your personal animosity for your soon to be ex.
Sometimes parents cannot come to an agreement. When this occurs, child custody is decided by the court based on the best interests of the child.
How Does the Court Decide What Is In The Child’s Best Interest in Bedford?
When making this determination, Texas courts start with the belief that it is in the best interests of the child for both parents to have a meaningful role in raising the child. It is presumed that joint legal custody is best. However, before making any decision, the court will consider various factors, including:
• The wishes of the child – typically only apply to children aged 12 and older;
• The emotional and physical needs of the child now and in the future;
• The emotional and physical danger to the child now and in the future;
• The parenting abilities of the individuals seeking custody;
• The programs available to assist each parent;
• Each parent’s plans for the child;
• The stability of the proposed home; and
• Any acts or omissions of the parent that may indicate parental unfitness.
Texas courts cannot base their decision on the parent’s marital status or gender. The judge will not automatically assume that it is in a child’s best interest to remain in the care of their mothers. However, Texas does subscribe to the “tender years doctrine.” According to the tender age doctrine, the interests of a child under the age of three are best served by living full-time with the primary parent with visitation from the other parent. Practically, the mother is almost always preferred by the court unless she has demonstrated malfeasance or poor parenting.
What Evidence Will the Court Look At To Determine Child Custody in Bedford?
If your child custody case goes to trial, you can present evidence to the court that supports your claim that the custody arrangement you want is in the best interests of the child. Relevant evidence includes anything that demonstrates either parent’s fitness or unsuitability to care for a child. Presenting the right evidence is critical to success. An experienced Bedford divorce attorney will help you gather the evidence needed to obtain a positive outcome.
Examples of evidence that can be used in a child custody case include:
• Psychological evaluations;
• Affidavit of a child 12 or older;
• Medical records of substance abuse or domestic violence;
• Text messages, emails, voicemails, and social media posts that show a parent’s attempt to hinder the child’s relationship with a co-parent; and
• Testimony for medical or education experts about a child’s unique needs and that one parent is more willing and able to provide for those needs.
In addition to the evidence above, the child may be able to testify about their wishes. If the child is 12 years or older, a parent can ask the court to interview the child in his chambers (the judge’s office). If the child is under 12, the judge decides whether to question the child. The child’s preference is only one factor the court will consider when deciding what is in the child’s best interests. The judge will consider the child’s maturity level and ability to make a sound, well-reasoned judgment when deciding the amount of weight to give the interview.
Your Bedford Child Support Lawyer
If you have questions about life insurance, you should contact an experienced Bedford family law lawyer. The Law Office of Craig S. Michalk has helped the residents of Tarrant County navigate child support, divorce, and other family law matters for over 24 years. Call the Law Office of Craig S. Michalk today at 817-282-9895 for a free consultation. We look forward to the opportunity to discuss and assist you with your needs.