It is not reasonable to expect a Texas divorce to follow any prescribed path, especially when child custody is involved. However, it is possible for spouses and attorneys to prepare for any type of conflict— even when the case involves complicated issues and intense emotional investment.
Parties involved in a divorce might reach an accord in terms of custody or visitation using a variety of different processes. This FindLaw resource explains the basics of child custody disputes, and lists the two major types of agreements:
- Negotiated agreements, such as those reached through arbitrated parenting plans
- Litigated agreements, reached by court decision
Specific circumstances often dictate whether divorce participants litigate or negotiate, regardless of the fact that, generally speaking, divorcing couples have access to both of these avenues of custody resolution. For example, litigation is typically necessary when one or both of the spouses are not willing to compromise. The Laura Dale & Associates main page on the topic of custody representation covers two of the most common factors contributing to an atmosphere of intense conflict:
- Illness of a parent, specifically mental or emotional
- Substance abuse issues
The Texas Legal Code states simply that the child’s best interests are the court’s primary concerns in custody and visitation decisions. In some cases, parents suffering from various problems might have an opportunity to show the court their desire and ability to provide a positive influence in a child’s life. In other cases, a parent might be able to demonstrate the necessity for the court to limit a child’s exposure to an ill spouse.
The Texas Code contains a number of important resources, but complete reliance on the letter of the law is typically an insufficient strategy. It is often necessary for attorneys to combine medical knowledge, legal code and case law to favorably resolve a custody battle that goes to litigation.