Child custody arrangements, in a divorce, paternity, or any other child custody case, will be outlined in a “parenting plan” that describes the parties’ rights and duties regarding possession and access to the child, and child support obligations, as well as access to information regarding the child’s health and education. Whether you have sole or joint custody, the court will specify the rights and duties of each party.
If you are considering divorce or have been served with a petition for divorce where children are involved, please contact our office to discuss your rights and duties, and those of your spouse.
If you have a child and are not married to the other parent of the child, you need court orders as soon as possible to protect yourself and protect your child; please contact our office.
Hanshaw Kennedy Family Law attorneys are experienced with child custody matters, whether related to divorce, paternity, or other suit affecting child custody. We will seek an outcome that will be in your best interest, and the best interest of the child, and have successfully litigated, mediated, and amicably settled child custody cases. Our experienced attorneys know that your family’s needs are unique. Hanshaw Kennedy Family Law attorneys can work within the legal system toward creative results and outcomes that best suit the needs of your family.
High-conflict relationships bring a range of complications to child custody decisions. It is important that your attorney identify a potential high-conflict situation early, and help you anticipate challenges in communication and possible power struggles between the parties. This expertise is especially important when it comes to custody and visitation decisions. The Hanshaw Kennedy Family Law attorneys have helped clients navigate difficult negotiations, and will help you prepare your plan of approach.
We help clients understand the extent of their own rights and those of the opposing parent, to create a custody agreement that fits your family. Those rights can include access to the child’s medical and educational records; decision-making rights regarding the child’s primary residence, moral and religious training, health care, and education; and duties, such as providing care, shelter, and support. For any person seeking possession of the child, the court may order a custody evaluation to determine the child’s best interests in regard to decision making and possession and access. This third party professional will make recommendations to the court.
VISITATION ISSUES (POSSESSION & ACCESS)
The periods of possession and the access to the child allowed to each parent in a child custody suit is a main issue in custody cases. Joint custody or conservatorship does not necessarily mean equal parenting time, and has little bearing on whether child support will be ordered. Our experienced attorneys can walk you through the possession and access options and help you understand how visitation works with decision-making rights and child support to determine the best course of action for your case.
Generally, parents will receive joint decision making (joint conservatorship), however, many circumstances, including family violence, could lead to one parent being awarded sole conservatorship of the child. If you would like to discuss potential custody and visitation arrangements for your child, please contact our office.
A single episode of domestic abuse can have adverse and lasting impact on child custody arrangements and may result in supervised visitation, or, in extreme cases, the termination of parental rights. Custody agreements in situations involving prior, ongoing, or anticipated future abuse or exposure to endangerment of the child or another family member require careful attention. Our attorneys understand the important steps to take with abuse cases in order to protect the child, victims and/or the accused.
Please see our page on Family Violence for more information. If you suspect or are experiencing family violence (physical or emotional abuse), please contact these resources for help:
• Texas Family Violence Resource Center
• National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).
Neglect: A court may deem a parent as “unfit” to care for a child, if there is a finding that the parent neglected a child’s welfare, health, and/or environment. In extreme cases of neglect, a child may be removed by Child Protective Services and may be placed into foster care.
Endangerment: A court may issue protective orders when family violence has occurred. The protective orders may be designed to prevent further acts of violence; communication between the parties; proximity to a person, their residence or work; possession of a firearm; and other activities related to endangerment.
Our attorneys have deep experience in obtaining protective orders for clients who have suffered incidents of neglect and/or endangerment. If you believe a situation involves the neglect or endangerment of your child, contact our office immediately for guidance.
SPECIAL NEEDS CHILDREN
Custody cases involving special needs children are less common, and therefore require an experienced and informed legal representative, and one who will help ensure the judge is fully educated on your situation and the particular aspects of the law affecting custody, decision making, child support, etc. with special needs children. These cases require special attention to ensure adequate consideration is given to the different and long-term needs involved in many of these cases.
Our attorneys can help you navigate areas like access, possession, and child support – and advise you according to your best interests and the best interests of the child.
CHILD CUSTODY & MENTAL HEALTH
As a part of the basis of a child custody arrangement, the court will assess the mental health of the parents and the child. This assessment may be formal in the style of a psychological or psychiatric evaluation, or informal by considering the demeanor and abilities of the party on the stand. After such an assessment, therapy may be ordered for one or more parties.
Mental Health diagnoses cover a range of categories, though how a particular mental disease or deficiency presents itself in your situation may be unique, and may require specific recommendations and treatment.
Our Hanshaw Kennedy Family Law attorneys are experienced with family law matters where questions of mental health have arisen. We work with professional and compassionate mental health providers, counselors, and therapists.