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Child Custody & Visitation Lawyers for Texas Parents

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Determining child custody in Texas can be difficult under the best circumstances, and experienced child custody lawyers can help navigate this complex territory. When one of the parents has an illness or substance abuse problem, the situation becomes even more challenging. If you are involved in a high-conflict custody battle, be sure your lawyer has experience with your type of case.

Laura Dale & Associates, provides expert child custody representation from two family law board certified attorneys. In addition, Houston attorney Laura Dale has a master’s degree in psychophysiology and a doctorate in neuroscience, as well as clinical experience with mentally ill patients. She understands mental illness and substance abuse, and the effect they have on family law issues. She works with numerous clients in these situations and often receives referrals from hospitals. In addition, she handles international child custody cases.

To talk with a child custody attorney, please call 713-574-7952 or contact us via email. We are skilled in upholding:

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The Mechanics Of Child Custody In Texas

All parents have rights and obligations concerning their children. They’re expected to financially support their minor children and provide them with a safe, stable living environment. Possession of and access to (also known as “custody and visitation”) is also their right, as is the ability to make major decisions on a child’s behalf about things such as their education, religious instruction and medical care.

When parents are no longer together, a parenting plan can help formally establish the extent of each parent’s obligations and rights, including how custody and visitation will work. In general, parents are free to establish any custody and visitation plan they want – so long as they agree. Most parents prefer to negotiate their parenting plans without court intervention since that allows for the most flexible, customized agreements. Once a judge approves a parenting plan, it becomes enforceable – just like any other court order.

When parents cannot agree on how legal or physical custody should work, the court can step in and make the decisions for them. Those decisions are always based on what is in the best interests of the child or children involved. While there are numerous factors that the court may consider, some of the most critical include:

  • The desires of the child: Once a child is 12 years of age or older, they can express their preferences about custody to the court and ask for those preferences to be considered.
  • The ability of each parent to meet their child’s physical and emotional needs: This can include everything from the stability of the home a parent can provide to the complexity of their work schedule.
  • The safety of the child in each parent’s care: Evidence of domestic violence, abuse or neglect in a parent’s household can significantly affect the judge’s decision, which can be provided through hospital records, criminal histories, witness statements and expert evaluations.

Because custody and visitation orders are enforceable, a parent who is being denied their rights can turn to the court for relief. Depending on the situation, the court can order make-up parenting time or hold a noncompliant parent in contempt of court. They can also punish a noncompliant parent with the reduction or loss of their custody rights.

Resolving High-Conflict Custody Cases

In any high-conflict case, at least one party cannot compromise. In some cases, this is because one parent has a substance abuse problem or a disorder such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) or bipolar disorder. Attorney Dale can recognize the illness and address it. When a client is ill, she helps to get the client stabilized and/or in recovery to get the support he or she needs from family members, therapists or a substance abuse program. When the opposing parent is ill, she explains the illness to her client and discusses the consequences for the children.

Keeping the children safe is critical in these situations. We help clients find support for the present and future. We draft orders to address custody and visitation if the other parent’s condition worsens. By having orders in place, clients do not have to go back to court if the other parent relapses or becomes sicker.

What Is Best For The Child?

In all custody cases, custody is determined by what is in the best interest of the child. The court will consider factors such as the ability of each parent to care for the child, the emotional and physical needs of the child, the current relationship with each parent, and the stability of the home. The judge will also examine any evidence that a parent may be unfit.

The parent who is granted primary custody is called the managing conservator or custodial parent. The noncustodial parent will be granted access or visitation to the children. We answer questions and help clients create a parenting plan that meets the needs of the child.

Child Custody Services in Houston

Child Custody FAQs

I want sole custody. What can I do?

True sole custody, meaning sole legal custody and sole physical custody, is very hard to obtain. Texas presumes that it is in the best interest of a child to have liberal access to both parents. As a result, specific circumstances must be present in order for sole custody to be an option, such as the death of a parent, incarceration, physical abuse or substance abuse.

Do I have to go to court?

No. Custody cases are often very contentious and emotional due to what is at stake. But we have encountered many parents who are able to resolve their issues amicably. This is preferred whenever possible, but we are fully capable of resolving your issues in court if necessary. We are skilled litigators with extensive experience resolving high-conflict custody disputes.

How is custody determined?

Child custody cases may be resolved at trial by a judge or jury, or by agreement of the parents. More than ninety percent of the time these disputes are resolved in mediation or by an informal settlement process. In the small fraction of cases that go to trial, a custody determination, whether by a judge or jury, is generally determined by what the fact finder believes is in the best interest of the child.

Can a parent pick up the child and move?

A relocating parent cannot relocate unless by court order or consent of the other parent. Relocation is a complex area of Texas custody law. For more information, see our relocation page.

Contact An Attorney To Learn More

Laura Dale & Associates can help you find answers to your questions and make sure you understand your custody rights as a parent. Contact our Houston Family Law firm today to arrange a consultation.


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