Child Custody Attorney Houston, TX

In Texas, the custodial parent is called "the sole managing conservator of the child or children" or a “Joint Managing Conservator who has the right to determine the children’s domicile."

Joint Managing Conservatorship

The parent with visitation rights may be referred to as "the possessory conservator of the child or children” or “Joint Managing Conservator without the right to determine the children’s domicile." Often times many laypersons will refer to parents as having “Joint Custody” of their children. Do not confuse “joint custody” with “Joint Managing Conservator”. 

 

Please be careful to remember that the “labels” you may be inclined to use are not as important as the actual specific rights and duties given to each parent, or as important as the amount of parenting time each parent receives.  Further, there is room for creativity, if you and your soon to be ex-spouse can come to an agreement.

Additionally, there are certain rights and duties that each parent will be given in a divorce, such as the right to consent to elective surgery, choose the educational route for the child or choose mental health counseling and counselors, if necessary. Make sure you are aware of the rights and duties set forth in the Texas Family Code, and which rights and duties best fit each parent’s strengths.  For example, if one parent works in the medical field, that parent may be the one best suited to make medical decisions, while a parent in the mental health field may be best suited to address the children’s counseling and mental health issues.  

 

Michael Von Blon will assist you in preparing your case to best maximize your ability to obtain the specific rights and duties that you believe are most important for the development of your child; emotionally, psychologically, educationally and physically.  Further, although there are presumptive guidelines set forth in the Texas Family Code for these issues, realize under Texas case law that the parents, if in agreement, can creatively craft what best fits their family and their own specific strengths. A good family law attorney like Michael Von Blon can assist you in all child custody matters, he can also advise you on the factors judges use to determine who gets custody of the kids.  After all, every family is unique.

Primary Custody

Within Joint Managing Conservatorship, one parent will have primary custody of the child or children.  This parent will have the right, although it may not be exclusive, to choose the primary residence.  In addition, the parent with primary custody will also be able to make other important decisions including:

  • What school the child or children will attend.

  • What kind of health care will the receive and when, including surgery.

  • The type of support and counselling they receive.

 

It’s important to emphasize that the parent with primary custody does not have the absolute authority in each of these matters.  Whether parents have an amicable relationship after divorce or not, both parents may have a right to make these decisions.

Sole Managing Conservatorship

The courts may decide to appoint one parent as sole managing conservator when credible evidence of domestic violence or sexual abuse has been presented. This includes physical or sexual abuse of one spouse against the other or physical or sexual abuse of a child. The court will consider these offences for a period of up to two years prior to the divorce.

Parenting Time and Visitation

After divorce, it is always best for the children if the parents remain cordial at all times, especially in front of the kids. In this type of situation, parents will often define the terms and circumstances for parenting time and visitation for the parent who does not have primary custody.

In cases where parents don’t see eye to eye, the courts may enter a standard possession order to lay down the ground rules for visitation. Parenting time as defined in a standard possession order will have a schedule for visitation which can include:

  • Right to visitation on the 1st, 3rd and 5th weekends of the month, beginning when school is dismissed on Fridays during the school year.

  • Weekends are extended to begin on Thursday when a holiday or a teacher professional development day land on a Friday.

  • Visitation each Thursday during the school year beginning when school dismisses up until the beginning of school on Friday.

  • Parenting time for vacations, in even numbered years the parent without primary custody will have visitation during spring break, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

  • A specified number of days in summer, usually 30.

 

Standard possession orders in Texas are intended to promote an amicable relationship between Mom and Dad.  In fact, the schedule for visitation in a standard possession order may not look any different from that of parents who define their own schedules.

Attorney Michael Von Blon has decades of experience in advocating on the behalf of parents who are going through a divorce. He has a wealth of legal knowledge and years of experience crafting convincing arguments before judges in child custody matters.

Domestic Violence and Protective Orders

Domestic violence continues to be a problem in this country and in Texas with many people being abused each and every day.  It isn’t surprising that domestic violence is one of the main reasons marriages end in divorce.  If you know of someone who has suffered at the hands of their spouse, there are a number of support options available in Houston including the Houston Area Women’s Center and the Harris County Domestic Violence Division within the District Attorney’s office.

 

Protective orders are issued by the courts as a way to ensure an abuser does not continue to commit violent acts against their spouse or children.  These orders also make their way into the databases of law enforcement. An abuser can face serious consequences for violating protective orders and can be arrested on the spot for violating a protective order.

Violations of Court Orders

In child custody matters court orders are the ground rules that parents must comply with. If either spouse violates these orders, they run the risk of appearing in a contempt hearing in front of a judge.

Child Support

We’ve all heard of the term “deadbeat” and when it comes to child support it means that one parent is not living up to their obligations. In these sad situations, it’s the kids who suffer. As a seasoned family law attorney, Michael Von Blon can assist you in these matters and petition the courts to enforce orders for child support.

Parents who feel the courts should throw the book at their former spouse and put them in jail for not paying child support are being short sighted. There are far better strategies to employ to deal with a situation where child support is not being paid. After all, if the one ordered to pay child support fails to do so, incarceration may not be the best initial punishment as that may result in the offender’s loss of a job.

Visitation

If your marriage was dysfunctional, the behaviors that were present then can also appear after divorce when you are trying your best to get on with your life. Parenting time is important to both parents and when one spouse unilaterally decides to the keep the kids for a weekend or take them on an unplanned vacation it can leave the other parent embittered.

Parents do however have some recourse through a motion for enforcement. In these situations, it’s important to consult with an attorney who is knowledgeable and experienced in handling child custody matters. If the court order regarding visitation has specific language about the schedule and logistics of parenting time then you can get a judge to sanction your former spouse for their irresponsible actions.

Custody Rights For Grandparents

Sometimes children cannot turn to either parent for reliable, safe parenting. In those unfortunate and limited cases, grandparents may be the best caregivers for children in crisis. Texas law makes provisions for grandparents to obtain custody of their grandchildren, under certain limited circumstances. This area of law is constantly evolving, and we encourage grandparents with questions about their legal rights to seek advice immediately. The Law Offices of Michael P. Von Blon focuses part of its family law practice on custody rights for grandparents, including appeals when trial courts deny custody and/or visitation to grandparents.