If you’re in the process of going through a divorce, you’re not alone. In fact, it is estimated that about one-third of marriages in the United States will ultimately end in divorce. One of the biggest concerns you may have is gaining custody of your child or children. Unfortunately, child custody disputes are extremely common among divorcing couples; typically, each party wants sole custody or primary custody, and finding a middle ground is often difficult.
If you know that the child will be best off in your care, here are some tips on how to gain custody of a child in Texas:
Understanding the Court’s Perspective
Start by looking at things from the court’s perspective. In Texas, family courts will always go with the decision that will minimize any negative emotional impact on your child. This typically means encouraging divorcing couples to reach an agreement outside of the courtroom whenever possible.
In some cases, however, the courts may decide to step in and make a decision without much (if any) further consultation from the parents. This is most often the case in situations where the welfare of the child(ren) is perceived to be at risk, or when there is a history of abuse, neglect, or family violence.
Furthermore, for children over the age of 12, it is possible for the child to formally request that their custody be turned over to a specific parent. This is by no means a guarantee, but having a formal document filed with the court by the child can make a substantial difference.
Tips for Gaining Custody of Your Child
If you’re seeking primary or sole custody of your child as you go through the divorce process, there are some tips worth following that may increase your chances for success.
Start by doing everything you can to reach a settlement with the child’s other parent. Try to work with a mediator since going through a court battle will make things more stressful for both you and your child(ren). When working on a custody agreement, always keep your child’s best interests in mind and try to be as courteous to the other parent as possible. It’s not always easy, but this politeness can be very beneficial to you.
If you currently have temporary custody of the child(ren), make sure you’re continuing to let the other parent see them. Never withhold the other parent’s right or ability to see the child(ren) as this could (and likely will) be used against you if the custody dispute makes it way to court.
If you use social media, avoid posting anything negative about the other parent. Even if you have strict privacy settings that prevent your soon-to-be-ex-spouse from seeing what you post, you never know who could be saving screenshots that could be used against you. Keep all information pertaining to your divorce and custody dispute off social media sites.
Finally, go out of your way to document things that could work in your favor. If the other parent was late to pick up your child(ren) as agreed upon or failed to arrive at all, write down the date and time of this occurrence. Keep screenshots of any text messages or other correspondence that can prove this as well. This information can be used in court to demonstrate that the child(ren) would be better suited to live with you. It is especially important that you obtain documentation if there is any history of violence, abuse, or neglect as well.
Consult With a Divorce Attorney
Going through a custody battle can make the entire divorce process much more difficult than it already is. This is where having an experienced family law attorney on your side can make all the difference. They will be able to provide you with guidance and sound legal advice during this difficult time. A divorce attorney with experience in handling custody disputes will also be able to help build your case should the matter go to court.
You should never try to go through a divorce without legal representation; this is especially true when a child custody disagreement exists. Alison Grant, Attorney at Law, is here to assist you through this difficult time. Contact her office today to set up a consultation and case evaluation.