Legal Representation for Child Custody and Visitation Cases in Houston, TX
Going through a divorce in Texas is a challenging and emotional process that is often made more difficult when children are involved. It is not uncommon for parents to dispute child custody, and often, each party in the divorce must hire a lawyer who handles custody and other disputes to represent them. At Stepp & Sullivan, P.C., our Houston child custody and visitation lawyers have worked closely with parents from all walks of life who need competent legal counsel during a divorce. There are many crucial decisions to be made in divorce, and, without legal representation, you can miss out on opportunities for decisions regarding child custody and visitation to work in your favor.
Legal Representation in Child Custody and Visitation Matters
At Stepp & Sullivan, we work hard to ensure that both sides remember that the child is the real focus in any custody dispute. When deciding child custody, the court will always consider the child’s best interests.
Child custody is divided into two parts:
- Physical Custody - where the child lives
- Legal Custody - decision making involving the health, education, and welfare of the child
Any arrangement of the above is possible. Each can be the sole responsibility of one party or shared jointly.
Joint Custody and Sole Custody Arrangements
Additionally, the court may decide to grant sole or joint custody. Sole custody may be awarded to one parent. The child resides with that parent, and that parent has the exclusive legal right to make decisions about the child’s upbringing, such as decisions regarding medical care, education, religious beliefs, activities, and more. This means that the parent with sole custody has physical and legal custody.
The court will usually try to grant joint custody to both parents so that the child may enjoy a meaningful relationship with them. In a joint custody arrangement, both parents participate in decision making and the child may live with one parent the majority of the time while the other parent gets visitation. Usually, this is what is considered in the best interest of the child.
In a shared custody arrangement, the parents share legal custody rights and the child has two official residences. The child lives with each parent for at least 35% of the year. Another custody arrangement called split custody is hardly selected. Split custody works with at least 2 children. Each parent is awarded full custody of at least one of the two children.
What are the Child’s Best Interests?
The State of Texas Family Law Court considers the child’s best interests when determining issues like custody, visitation, and support. Each child is unique and has different needs that must be met. The court will evaluate the following before deciding on child custody and visitation:
- The home environment each parent offers
- How far apart the parents live
- Each parent’s ability to properly care for the child
- Whether the parents can cooperate on the child’s upbringing
- Each parent’s financial situation
- Each parent’s employment situation
- The child’s preference for either parent (for children 12 and older)
The court will also consider the following before determining a custody arrangement:
- The child’s wishes
- The child’s current and future emotional and physical needs
- Potential emotional and physical danger to the child
- Each parent’s abilities
- Each parent’s plans to raise the child
- Stability of the proposed home
- Any signs that a parent is unfit to raise the child
Are Parenting Classes Required in a Texas Divorce Involving Children?
Usually, the State of Texas requires parents seeking a divorce with minor children to complete a parenting course before granting a divorce. The class is designed to help parents and children cope with the trauma divorce and separation usually bring. Both parents must complete the course unless the court grants a waiver. Parents who must complete this course can do so online for a reasonable fee.
Possible Visitation Arrangements in a Texas Divorce
Here are a few of the situations in which we can help you:
- Enforcement by a noncustodial parent of a visitation agreement
- Relocation, moving, and international custody issues
- Modification of the parenting plan by a noncustodial parent
- Modification of a visitation schedule by a parent with full or primary custody
- Grandparents seeking visitation rights with their grandchildren
- Protecting the rights of non-biological parents in same-sex couples
Hiring a child custody lawyer in Houston early on in the divorce process is critical to ensuring that the decisions made during divorce proceedings will work in your favor and that of your children. Our custody and visitation lawyers understand that you’re going through a difficult time. We can help you make logical decisions that will help you secure a bright future.
Will My Child Custody Dispute Go to Trial?
We take to trial only those cases in which we believe litigation is the best option. For those cases where trial may not be appropriate, we will counsel you and work diligently to negotiate an amicable resolution.
Emergency Applications for Custody
Seeking emergency temporary child custody may be appropriate under the following circumstances:
- If you believe your “ex” is going to relocate with your child without your permission or the court’s consent
- If you notice signs of abuse or neglect
- If the child is in imminent danger
Our law firm can help you understand the process of seeking emergency temporary child custody to protect your child.
Choose Quality Counsel for Child Custody and Visitation in Houston
The dedicated child custody attorneys with Stepp & Sullivan, P.C. have more than 70 years of combined experience advocating for parents involved in divorce proceedings. Our team is known for delivering quality, personalized services that get results. Attorney Jad J. Stepp is an AV-rated attorney by Martindale-Hubble and has a 10 rating on Avvo. Our lawyers are members of the Texas State Bar and aim to help you achieve your goals in divorce disputes. For a confidential consultation, call (713) 336-7200 or complete our contact form.