When you’re looking for the right lawyers for custody battles that you’re afraid you might have to face in the future, you probably have a lot of questions. Every divorce or relationship end is different, and every family’s situation and needs are unique, so you want to make sure that your attorney helps you set up your future in the right way that will work for your family.
No matter the age of your kids, or the specifics of your situation, there are a few essential questions everyone will want to ask their lawyers when preparing for a child custody battle.
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What about sole custody, shared custody, and visitation?
In Texas, one parent will be named the “custodial parent,” which is the parent that the child (or children) will live with. The other parent can still have right to make legal, medical, and educational decisions, and parents can arrange an agreement that requires both parents sign-off on any of these major decisions. However, to figure out who is the custodial parent, you and your lawyer will discuss a schedule for your children that involves how many nights they will spend at each parent’s house. In addition to determining some of your legal rights, it will also factor into calculations for child support and taxes.
Non-custodial parents are often guaranteed a minimum amount of visitation with the children each month, depending on the circumstances.
What about moving in and out of state?
Definitely discuss the particulars of your living situation with your lawyers. For custody battles, it’s best not to make any “sudden moves” without being fully aware how the court will perceive the move. If you are in a situation where you and your children need to live at a location that is kept hidden from the other parent, be sure to discuss your safety concerns with your attorneys and go through all the proper steps.
When you are going through a custody battle, don’t rush to move in with someone else – a new significant other or another adult roommate – if you can prevent it. If you need to move in with other people because of safety, health, or financial concerns, attempt to live with a family member if possible. The court may take into consideration your living arrangements when deciding custody factors for your children.
In-State vs. Out-of-State
Moving within the same city and within the same state should be easy to arrange with the court, depending on the circumstances. Most child custody arrangements do not prevent the custodial parent from moving the children within the same state, although it is often recommended to retain kids in the same school district or city. Unless education is a concern and the primary reason for the move is to open the children to new educational opportunities, consider how moving out of the city where their other parent lives will affect your children long-term.
On the other hand, many custody arrangements prohibit the custodial parent from moving the children out of state without first seeking permission from the court. If the non-custodial parent is choosing to move out of state, he or she will have to petition the court based on their new availability in order to negotiate a new visitation schedule. But in most circumstances, the custodial parent will not be able to move the children out of state without first gaining approval of the court.
Can we change the child custody arrangements later?
Making future changes to a child custody and visitation arrangement is known as a “modification,” and yes, they are often and frequent. Some parents regularly schedule modifications to update their agreements as their children get older and reach certain milestones. Other parents modify their arrangements as necessary – if one parent changes employment or location, for example, or especially if one of them is going to be remarried or have new children.
In order to modify an existing custody arrangement, your lawyers should be able to submit an appeal for modification to the court, which will get you on the docket for a hearing before the judge. After explaining the reasons for the desired modification, the other parent will have the opportunity to agree or make counter-offers.
It’s often most convenient to make several modifications to your custody arrangement at once. Since most lawyers for custody battles charge by the hour, may as well have them spend all the time necessary to get the arrangement right and only have to go to court once for multiple modifications.