Austin Texas Family Law, Eminent Domain and Personal Injury Lawyer FAQ
Austin, Texas family law, eminent domain personal and injury lawyer frequently asked questions and answers
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Do I need a lawyer to help me with my custody case?
You are not required to have to a lawyer to file or respond to a custody case. However, custody cases can be complicated. Whether you decide to hire an attorney, you should discuss your situation with a lawyer before you proceed with your case to discuss your options.
You should definitely talk to a lawyer if:
You fear for your safety or that of children.
Your case is contested.
The other side has hired a lawyer.
Your child has a disability.
You are unsure of the identity of the child’s father.
How can I change a custody order?
If a court order regarding custody/conservatorship already exists, it may be changed by a judge in a modification case. The grounds for modification are specific and you should talk to a lawyer to see if you have a basis for requesting a change.
How do I get a custody order?
A court has to grant a custody order. A custody or conservatorship can be ordered by a judge as part of a:
suit affecting the parent-child relationship (SAPCR),
paternity suit, or
family violence protective order case.
How does family violence affect custody in my case?
Texas judges must consider evidence of family violence when making decisions about custody and visitation. If there has been a history of violence or abuse, it’s important to talk with a lawyer about your case.
What is a Possessory Conservator?
If a parent is named the Sole Managing Conservator, the other parent is usually named the Possessory Conservator. If a non-parent is named the Sole Managing Conservator, then both parents will usually be named Possessory Conservators. To be a Possessory Conservator means a person still has the rights of a parent, but will not have the final say (deciding vote) on most decisions.
What is a Sole Managing Conservator?
One parent (or even a non-parent) can be named Sole Managing Conservator if there is a good reason to do so. The Sole Managing Conservator has the exclusive right to make most decisions about the child.
There are a number of reasons a judge might name a parent (or nonparent) Sole Managing Conservator, which include:
- absence of the other parent in the child’s life
- family violence by the other parent
- child abuse or neglect by the other parent
- alcohol or drug abuse by the other parent
What is a Joint Managing Conservator?
Texas family law states that parents should usually be named Joint Managing Conservators. A joint conservatorship order means the parents share decision making about most issues. However, it does not mean the child’s time is split equally between the parents. A possession order states when each parent has the right to time with the child.
In most joint conservatorship orders, one parent will have the exclusive right to decide where the child lives (usually within a certain geographic area). The parent with this right is called the “custodial parent” and the child usually lives mostly with this parent. The other parent is referred to as the “non-custodial parent.”
In some joint conservatorship orders, neither parent has the exclusive right to decide where the child lives but the child’s residence will be restricted to a certain geographic area, like a school attendance zone or county.
Texas family law states that parents should not be made Joint Managing Conservators if there is a history or pattern of violence by one parent against the other parent.
What is a conservator?
A"conservator" is a person with court-ordered custody of a child.
There are three types of conservators:
Joint Managing Conservator
Sole Managing Conservator
What if I don’t have a court order for child custody?
Only a court order creates legal custody. If there is no court order, there is nothing for a judge to enforce, and each parent is free to take the child at any time.
What is custody?
The legal word for custody in Texas is “conservatorship.” Custody or conservatorship describes your relationship with a child when there is a court order.