Putting Your Children’s Best Interests First During Custody Cases
At Coldwell Bowes, we hold firm to the philosophy that the best interest of the children should — and must — dictate the strategy when resolving custody disputes in divorce and paternity matters. Our attorneys have built an excellent reputation for integrity among family therapists, custody evaluators, social service professionals and judges in matters related to possession of and access to children under Texas law.
If your pending divorce or paternity matter in Central Texas will include disputes regarding custody and parenting time, talk to a member of our legal team at Coldwell Bowes, in Austin. We have decades of experience putting our clients in the best position to achieve the best resolution for their family.
From our offices in downtown Austin, our lawyers represent clients in family law matters in courts throughout Central Texas. Call us at 512-472-2040 or contact us by email to arrange an initial consultation with one of our experienced Austin child custody attorneys today.
Handling a Variety of Custody Issues
In addition to establishing parenting time and child support obligations, our firm has extensive experience handling other child-related issues such as:
- Parental relocation, either of the custodial or noncustodial parent
- Grandparents’ visitation rights
- Modifications to parenting time or child support
No matter if you contact us pre-divorce or post, we will explain what you need to know about the custody process in Texas and provide thorough, honest answers to all of your child custody questions. You can count on our firm to put your children’s best interests first.
Fighting Parental Alienation
Custodial parents do not have the right to speak words or take actions with the intent to alienate their child from the other parent. Likewise, parenting time with a child should not be an occasion to drive a wedge between your child and his or her custodial parent.
If you feel your ex-spouse or other parent of your child is engaging in parental alienation tactics during or after your divorce or custody resolution, you have the right to seek legal help from the courts. Contact us to arrange a consultation about your options.
Proving Paternity for Your Child’s Benefit
If you are a mother seeking to prove a man’s paternity to obtain child support or a father seeking access to your parenting rights under Texas law, turn to Coldwell Bowes for help. We will advise you of your rights and options to help you through the legal process and effectively represent your interests.
What Parents Need to Know About Texas Custody During Divorce
Most parents dread the custody process most of all when it comes to divorce. With Coldwell Bowes, they don’t have to. We put a premium on providing the personalized and dedicated advocacy parents need during this often tough time. Our Austin attorneys will guide you through each step of the process, answering your custody questions honestly and putting in the hours to achieve the best possible outcome.
To that end, here are three things you should know about how divorce with kids works in Texas.
1. You Will Likely Go Through Mediation First
Most counties in Texas, including Travis County, require parents to attempt resolution through mediation before taking the matter to court. Mediation offers parents the chance to negotiate a workable parenting plan with a certified neutral mediator. The mediator facilitates discussions, but represents neither parent. Our firm has two mediators who regularly assist clients in this capacity.
2. Child Support is Your Child’s Right — Not Yours
Many parents do not realize that child support is their child’s right, not theirs. By law, parents are obligated to financially support their children if they are able until the children come of age. They cannot waive child support obligations through a prenuptial, postnuptial or other agreement.
Most parents use Texas’s child support guidelines to determine what they will pay. The guidelines use a standard formula that takes each parent’s income, the number of children and a few other factors into account to determine the final monthly amount. You can negotiate child support payments with your spouse that deviate from the guidelines, but any agreement should be consistent with the guidelines and be enough to support your children’s basic needs, like housing, food and clothing.
3. You Can Make Changes on Your Own — If You Both Agree
Your parenting plan is a legally binding agreement, so in general, it must be followed to the letter. However, real life is rarely so rigid. You may need to modify your plan occasionally for specific situations or to accommodate your family’s needs in the future. The court recognizes this, and making modest, temporary changes to the plan is fine — as long as you discuss changes in advance with your co-parent and he or she agrees to them.
Whatever you do, do not make changes without the other parent’s consent or withhold visitation without seeking court approval. Doing so could result in being held in contempt of court or even having your custody revoked.
If you need to modify your parenting plan more long term — say, for relocation purposes or suspected child abuse — talk with our lawyers today. We will help you take the appropriate next steps to safeguard your child’s interests.
Contact our Office
To discuss your custody situation with one of our compassionate lawyers, call us at 512-472-2040. You may also use our online contact form to send us an email.
Answers to Your Questions About Texas Custody Laws
At Coldwell Bowes, we know that custody matters strike at the heart of most parents. What does Texas law say about parents’ rights to custody and financial support? Our attorneys provide honest answers and dedicated representation to protect your children’s best interests during divorce or parental separation.
Below are answers to some of the questions we frequently receive.
How Does the Court Determine Who Gets Custody?
The court operates under the doctrine of preserving the best interests of the child in any custody situation. It will look at factors such as:
- The home environment each parent offers
- Each parent’s ability to serve as caretaker
- Each parent’s employment situation and financial ability to support a child at home
- Parents’ ability or willingness to work together
- Whether any allegations of child abuse, neglect or violence have been raised
- The child’s preference (if he or she is 12 or older)
In most cases, this means that, absent any allegations of domestic violence, both parents will be granted equitable parenting time. Note that equitable does not mean “equal” under the law. It’s rare that parenting time is split exactly 50/50. Instead, parents receive equivalent amounts of time with the children according to a schedule set forth in their parenting plan.
What is ‘Shared Parenting’?
Shared parenting, or co-parenting as it is often called, refers to the way parents work together in raising their children even after they have split up. Children thrive when supported by both parents. For this reason, the court prefers that parents adopt a shared parenting model for child custody, if feasible.
Being able to cooperate in raising the children after a divorce or breakup is a skill that most parents must develop over time. Sometimes, divorced parents can take co-parenting classes to help them work on communication skills, flexibility and how to resolve conflict in healthy ways.
Can my Child Choose Which Parent to Live With?
In Texas, children may voice their preferred living situation from age 12 onward through a guardian ad litem (children cannot represent themselves in court). However, their preference will not be the sole deciding factor when it comes to determining physical custody. The judge must still weigh the other factors outlined above when making a final decision.
What if We Aren’t Married?
Unmarried parents have the same rights as divorcing parents. The only difference is they may need to go through a few extra steps to establish parenting time and child support. If the child’s parentage is in question, for example, the court will order a paternity test before proceeding with custody and support orders. In Texas, mothers are automatically granted legal and physical custody of their newborn infants, but an unwed father may petition the court to establish his paternity and seek parenting time.
What if My ex Doesn’t Want to Pay Child Support?
Quite simply, child support is not a parent’s individual choice. By Texas law, children have the right to be financially supported by both parents until they come of age. Divorced and unmarried parents alike can use Texas child support guidelines to determine how much they must pay. Single parents can also enforce child support obligations by petitioning the court.
Can I Limit Visitation if My Ex Doesn't Pay Child Support?
In a word, no. If you have court-ordered visitation (through a parenting plan), refusing visitation is breaking the law. You yourself could be held in contempt of court. If your children are not receiving the court-ordered support they deserve, however, you can ask the court to take action. This usually means wage garnishment or, in extreme cases, criminal arrest for nonpayment of child support.
If you have further questions this page does not answer, call our office in downtown Austin at 512-472-2040 or send us an email to arrange a consultation with one of our experienced lawyers.
What Visitation Rights Do Grandparents Have In Custody Battles?
The word “family” means different things to different people. In family law, it often refers to the nuclear family unit — parents and children. At Coldwell Bowes, though, we know that family extends far beyond that narrow boundary. We have an exceptional record of helping grandparents and other family members protect relationships with the children in their lives when those relationships are threatened by divorce or other serious issues.
Your Grandchild’s Welfare is Our Top Priority — Always
We are keenly aware of the importance grandparents and other extended family members play in children’s lives. However, Texas family laws contain limited provisions when it comes to enforcing access, visitation and custody for grandparents and other relatives. If parents are considered sound and fit, the court generally leaves grandparent visitation up to them.
That does not mean there isn’t any hope, however. Our attorneys can help you with negotiations with parents to preserve visitation rights following divorce or separation. We also regularly handle cases in which temporary guardianship or permanent custody by grandparents is warranted due to substance abuse, incarceration or mental health problems.
As with all child-related matters, we always pursue strategies that put the children’s best interests first.
Contact our Office
Our office is in downtown Austin, just one block south of the Texas State Capitol complex. To schedule an appointment with one of our compassionate lawyers, call 512-472-2040 or fill out our email contact form.
Helping Texas Parents With Relocation Issues
What happens if one parent wishes to move away? The move could be for a job, to be closer to family or to follow a new adventure. Whatever the reason, relocating as a single parent can be tricky to navigate without experienced legal guidance.
Coldwell Bowes, has years of experience helping families with relocation issues, either as the petitioning custodial parent or the parent seeking to deny the petition. In all cases involving minor children, we place the child’s interest at the heart of the matter and keep it as the top priority throughout the case.
If You Wish to Move
Moving with children can offer many new benefits for both you and them. However, you cannot simply pick up and leave. You must give your child’s other parent adequate notice. Otherwise, you could be held in contempt of your parenting plan, or even accused of kidnapping.
If you’re considering a move, our lawyers can guide you in seeking a modification of your parenting agreement. This includes gathering the appropriate documentation proving to the court why such a move benefits the children, which is the only standard it will use to approve a child relocation.
If You Wish to Prevent a Move
What if you’re on the other side of this equation? You still have rights to see and care for your children, even if their other parent wants to move away. Whatever you do, stick to your current parenting plan until a modification can be worked out. As with the parent moving, if you suddenly revoke access or visitation from the relocating parent, you could be held in contempt.
Our attorneys will help you respond to this situation appropriately, seeking creative solutions that preserve your children’s best interests. That could mean giving you more vacation time with your children or requiring regular video chats if they are moving further away. With technology and travel the way it is today, the possibilities are only limited by your family’s ability to flex to this change.
Obviously, if the move doesn’t preserve your children’s best interests, we will work tirelessly to prove this to the court and prevent the move. Talk with us to discuss your options.
Whether you are the one moving or the one seeking to prevent a move, call us at 512-472-2040 or contact us by email to schedule an appointment to discuss your options. We represent families with relocation concerns in Austin and throughout Central Texas.
Dealing With Family Violence In A Divorce
Whether your marriage has included a history of domestic abuse from the beginning or your pending divorce has resulted in emotional threats and physical violence, you need to turn to an experienced attorney for help.
Our attorneys offer vast experience handling divorces involving domestic abuse, psychological problems and substance abuse. We will protect your family interests and rights throughout your case. We work with many of the leading independent child welfare professionals and social service agencies in Central Texas. We will make sure you and your children are protected with the appropriate temporary orders throughout your case.
If You Have Been Wrongfully Accused, We Can Help
In divorces involving custody and children’s issues, it is a common strategy to claim the other spouse is emotionally or physically abusive. A false accusation of domestic violence can result in a permanent record and affect your future forever. We know how to thoroughly investigate the accusations and prepare the strongest, clearest case to protect your rights.
We Have Your Family’s Best Interests At Heart
We have built our reputation on providing exceptional client service, beginning with responsive communication and clear expectations. We practice with integrity and work hard to protect your family’s future throughout your case. We will not pursue a strategy that does not consider your children’s best interests as the highest priority.
Call us at 512-472-2040 or contact us by email to arrange a confidential consultation with one of our experienced Travis County divorce lawyers today.