A generation ago, most children grew up in “traditional” homes. A married mother and father, who had never been married to anyone else, headed the household. The children were their pure biological offspring. Today, most children grow up outside these environments. These “nontraditional” families must overcome some additional emotional, legal, financial, and other hurdles in order to thrive in the modern world.
To keep pace with these changes, many states have updated their child custody laws. For example, most jurisdictions now have co-parenting laws. These laws create a presumption that both parents must actively participate in the child-rearing process. But Texas still has a joint custody law. The J-word only refers to legal custody, or the right to make decisions. In terms of physical custody, most children live with one parent and visit the other one.
So, while the average Texas family has changed over the past twenty years, Texas laws are relatively unchanged in this area. Another thing that hasn’t changed is the need for a good Fort Worth child custody attorney. State law requires that all child custody orders be in the best interests of the children. However, the parents still have important legal and financial rights in this area. Only an experienced attorney can stand up for these rights in court.
Evidence in Child Custody Disputes
In both original determinations and subsequent modifications, a custody evaluation is usually the key piece of evidence.
Most judges order these evaluations in contested cases. A custody evaluator interviews family members and witnesses. The evaluator also looks at the documentary evidence, like medical bills and school records. Based on all this evidence, the evaluator submits a detailed report to the judge. This report usually includes a custody recommendation as well as a timesharing recommendation.
This report is not technically binding on the court. However, most judges give these reports considerable weight.
A Fort Worth child custody attorney plays an important role in this process. Lawyers usually have some input as to who performs the social study. It’s important that the investigator not be biased toward mothers or fathers. Furthermore, the social worker must be familiar with the issues in the case. Signs of Parental Alienation Syndrome are a good example.
Additionally, lawyers help mothers and fathers prepare for these examinations and put their best foot forward.
Resolving Child Custody Matters
To avoid the financial and emotional expense of a custody investigation, many parents work out custody and visitation provisions between themselves. The vast majority of civil claims, including child custody matters, settle out of court.
Frequently, mediation is part of this process. A third-party mediator, who is usually an unaffiliated Fort Worth child custody lawyer, meets with both sides and hears brief opening arguments from each attorney. Then, the parents retire to separate rooms. As they wait, the mediator conveys settlement offers and counter-offers between them.
These mediated settlements have a number of advantages. They significantly reduce legal fees in many cases. Furthermore, a mediated settlement often sets the stage for a successful co-parenting relationship.
Reach Out to a Dedicated Fort Worth Child Custody Attorney
Child custody disputes usually settle out of court. For a confidential consultation with an experienced child custody lawyer in Fort Worth, contact Orsinger, Nelson, Downing & Anderson, LLP by calling (214) 273-2400. Convenient payment plans are available.