Child custody and visitation in Texas is usually straightforward. The law assumes that children benefit from having as close as a relationship to both their parents as possible. Usually, both parents continue to share legal responsibility for, and time with, the children after they split.

A Wells Branch visitation lawyer could be a valuable resource, whether you are trying to craft a custody and visitation plan with a soon-to-be-ex-spouse or you believe you need to limit your child’s contact with their other parent. One of the knowledgeable family attorneys at Angela Faye Brown & Associates could explain your legal options and help you develop a strategy that produces a visitation plan that best suits your family’s needs.

Courts Favor Parent’s Equal Access to Children

Courts prefer to keep both parents as deeply involved in their children’s lives as possible. If the parents live near each other, communicate well, and both have time to devote to parenting, a court could order the parents to be joint managing conservators. In this scenario, parents get roughly equal parenting time and make all important decisions about the children together.

If one parent is unable, unwilling, or unfit to be a joint conservator, Texas Family Code §153.074 allows a judge to order that the child live with one parent for the majority of the time—that parent is called the child’s managing conservator. The other parent is the possessory conservator and almost always has visitation rights. The managing conservator has the right to:

  • Choose the child’s primary residence
  • Consent to medical, mental health, and dental treatment
  • Receive child support and disburse it for the child’s benefit
  • Make legal decisions on behalf of the child
  • Make educational decisions on behalf of the child

Courts often do not need to make this determination because the parents have already decided the most beneficial and workable solution for themselves and their children. A court reviews the agreement the parents have made and usually approves it unless there is reason to believe it is not in the children’s best interest. An experienced Wells Branch visitation attorney could work with a parent to ensure any agreement they reach with their co-parent meets the best interest test and will receive court approval.

“Best Interest of the Child” Standard Explained

When a judge must decide conservatorship, they consider what arrangement furthers the child’s best interest. The best interest standard requires a judge to determine what arrangement supports the child’s physical health and safety, emotional development, educational achievement, and mental health.

Courts review many parental characteristics when deciding what arrangement furthers the child’s best interest. If the child has problems with their physical or mental health, behavioral issues, or educational needs, the court will determine which parent is best equipped to deal with it. Courts also consider:

  • Each parent’s mental and physical health
  • Who has been the child’s primary caretaker
  • Work schedule of each parent
  • Living arrangement of each parent

If a child is at least 12, either parent could request that the judge interview the child about their preferences. However, the courts have no obligation to make an order in accordance with the child’s wishes, and may even discount them. If a court orders visitation with a parent, the co-parent must make the child available, even if the child objects.

When Is Limiting Visitation Appropriate?

In rare circumstances, safety issues require limiting one parent’s access to the child. If a court issued an order of protection to one parent against the other within the preceding two years, a court considers that order when making custody and visitation decisions. The law bars a court from awarding joint conservatorship to a parent with a history of domestic violence.

If a parent has a history of sexual, physical, or emotional abuse of the child, a court may restrict or limit visitation. Typically, a court requires that another adult be present when the allegedly abusive parent spends time with the child. If at some point, the parent can prove to the court’s satisfaction that the child is safe with them, the court could lift the supervision order. A seasoned Wells Branch attorney could advise a parent about the likelihood a court would impose or lift a supervised visitation requirement.

Rely on a Wells Branch Visitation Attorney to Protect Your Relationship with Your Child

If you and your co-parent have ended your intimate relationship, deciding how you will parent together going forward is an important decision that will impact your child forever. If you communicate well enough to negotiate your own solution or participate in mediation, judges usually accept whatever plan the parents believe will work for their family.

A Well Branch visitation lawyer could help parents negotiate a workable arrangement that supports their children’s best interests. If negotiations fail, a seasoned legal professional could advocate in court for a parent’s wishes. Reach out to schedule a consultation with a skilled attorney at Angela Faye Brown & Associates today.