How Does Sole Custody Work In Texas?

Woman holding her children and laughing. Sole custody, known technically as a sole managing conservatorship, is the situation where, following a divorce, only one parent is legally in charge of their child. This means they are the child’s primary caregiver, likely their primary place of residence, and they can make all of the major decisions about the child’s life. However, it is still possible that the other parent will be granted visitation rights within a sole managing conservatorship, so that they are still able to see their child.

Achieving sole custody can be a difficult thing, especially if the other parent is involved in your child’s life. You will likely need to demonstrate to the court that sole custody is in the best interest of the child. This may be because the other parent has a history of abusive behavior, domestic violence, or that their home is an unsafe environment due to substance abuse issues or psychological complications, for example.

If you are seeking sole custody in Texas, you will need an experienced and skilled lawyer at your side to demonstrate that the other parent’s ability or nature is inadequate for the task of providing a safe environment for your child. They will help you gather the appropriate evidence and make your case as strong as possible.

Custody matters, keep your child safe from physical and emotional danger with the help of The Love DuCote Law Firm LLC. Call 832-843-1691 today.

The Rights Afforded To A Parent Who Wins Sole Custody In Texas

In these first sections, we explain the various exclusive rights afforded to the one parent who is named the sole managing conservator of a child.

Texas law gives the person with sole custody legal custody, which means the right to make the key decisions about a child’s life – which we will expand upon in the coming sections.

Essentially, these boil down to having almost all the parental rights and the ability to make most decisions about your child’s life. Unlike with a joint managing conservatorship, if you win sole custody you have full autonomy and authority surrounding your child.

The Right To Choose The Child’s Primary Residence

If you have full custody of your child, you have the right to decide and designate their primary residence. Unsurprisingly, in the vast majority of cases, the person with sole custody also becomes the child’s place of primary residence.

However, it is still possible to have legal custody through a sole managing conservatorship and designate the other parent as the primary place of residence, if that other parent is in agreement with this arrangement. While this is much rarer, there are situations that can require it.

The Right To Give Consent For The Child’s Medical Decisions

Sole managing conservators will have the right to give consent on behalf of their child for medical treatment, and make any medical decisions relating to that child.

This includes routine checkups, medical procedures, dental work, courses of medical prescriptions, surgical treatment, or any other invasive procedures a child might need. This also extends to psychiatric and psychological treatment, if required.

The Right To Receive Child Support Payments From The Other Parent

One aspect of being a parent with full physical custody of a child is the increased expense, especially when that parent is in a single-income situation following the divorce.

As such, the person with full custody (the custodial parent) is likely to be entitled to child support from the non-custodial parent.

The monetary amount of child support you could be entitled to is something that will need to be negotiated between the two parents, or court ordered if the other parent will not agree.

When deciding child support amounts in the custody agreement, many factors will need to be considered, including the daily costs of keeping the child fed, clothed, and cared for. Calculations should also take into account the division of time between the two households, and other expenses involved in raising a child.

The Right To Legally Represent Your Child

If your child custody case results in you having sole custody of your child, Texas law gives you the power to handle all matters of substantial legal significance on their behalf.

In purely legal matters, this means that you have the right to represent your child in legal action. However, of course, we would always recommend hiring an appropriately experienced and knowledgeable attorney to do so on their behalf.

It also means that you will have the right to consent to marriage on their behalf, to consent to their enlistment into the United States armed forces, and other legally binding things of this nature before they reach the age of eighteen.

You will also be the only person with the right to manage and apply for passports on your child’s behalf.

The Right To Make Decisions Surrounding The Child’s Education

Educational decisions play a large part in a child’s upbringing, and as the sole managing conservator you have the right to make these.

This means that you will have full right to decide which schools your child attends, or whether you would prefer them to be home-schooled. Even if the other parent objects, the legal system gives sole managing conservators the full rights to overrule these objections.

The Right To Your Child’s Earnings And Their Estate

As part of your parental rights as sole managing conservator, you have full rights to all of the money your child earns before they reach adulthood. The same is likely true of any money or assets they hold as part of the child’s estate.

There are exceptions to this, however. In situations where a guardian or attorney ad litem has been appointed to the child’s estate, they will have control of the estate. In this situation, you will still likely have the right to act as an agent on the child’s behalf.

Visitation Rights And A Parenting Plan Are Not Given Rights To Sole Conservators

In a sole custody arrangement, you have control of most aspects of your child’s life and retain almost all autonomous parental rights, as you have seen in the sections above.

However, you do not automatically gain the ability to fully bar the other parent from interacting with their child. Visitation and shared physical custody arrangements must be pre-designated in a parenting plan or schedule, as part of the divorce settlement. This will either be negotiated between the two of you, or come as a court order at the end of the custody battle.

So, while you will have full legal custody of your child in a way that gives you much greater freedom of choice than with joint custody arrangements, it is still likely that you will need to work out a split schedule so that the other parent can still see their child.

Of course, it is possible that the child’s other parent may be an entirely unfit parent, for whom it would be dangerous to grant physical custody. In these situations, it can be possible to rule out any chance that the other parent spends time with your child, though you will need to convince the court that this is in the best interest of your child.

How To Go About Winning Sole Custody In Texas

If you want the result of your child custody dispute to be you being awarded sole custody in Texas, there are certain things you must do. You should also be aware that courts favor granting a joint managing conservatorship in the vast majority of cases where both parents have been involved in their child’s life.

The first thing you will need to do is to hire an experienced, knowledgeable, and skilled lawyer in the field of Texas family law. Without someone highly familiar with the Texas family code and how the intricacies of child custody battles are handled legally, you stand a low chance of achieving the result you desire.

From this point, you and your lawyer will need to build a strong case, featuring evidence, that shared custody with the other parent would be negative for your child’s wellbeing. We will discuss how to do this in the following sections.

How Judges Decide Who Gets Child Custody In Texas

When deciding on a child custody verdict, the Texas family code and child custody laws dictate that the Judge must make decisions about parental rights and the parents’ access based solely on what is in the best interest of the child.

However, how the family court Judge decides this and weighs factors against one another is not something that has a ruling set in stone. A Judge may consider many factors, including:

  • The age of each parent, and every child involved in the custody dispute.
  • The health of both parents, and each child.
  • Whether a child has any special needs, physically or mentally, that may require psychological or medical decisions, care, or interventions.
  • The home environment of each of the parents.
  • The personal history of each parent, including the presence of any criminal history, any accusations of child abuse or domestic violence, any history of substance abuse problems, or psychological issues.
  • The ability of each parent to provide for the physical, financial, emotional, mental, and educational needs of the child.
  • The existing parent-child relationship for each parent, plus any additional family ties to siblings, aunts, uncles, or grandparents.
  • The level of involvement each of the child’s parents already has with their life.
  • The child’s wishes, if the child is deemed old enough and is able to express their preferences in a coherent and reasoned way.

It is worth noting that this is not an exclusive list. Both parents’ stability and their ability for providing adequate support for their child will be assessed, and this may take many forms.

Demonstrating That The Other Parent Is An Unfit Parent

In order to be given sole custody and not designated a joint managing conservator, you will essentially need to prove and convince the judge that it is in the best interest of the child that the other parent be given no rights to legal custody.

As such, you will need to show that they are not fit to parent your child. You may do this by showing that they are a danger to their child’s physical or mental health. This can be done in many ways, such as by demonstrating a history of family violence or referencing a previous serious injury caused by neglect to the child, or through absent parental misconduct.

Similarly, you may demonstrate it would be a dangerous situation if your child lives with their other parent. For this, you could show that they would be exposed to illegal substance abuses, psychologically disturbed or dangerous individuals, or a volatile and emotionally upsetting household environment.

You Will Likely Need Evidence To Back Your Claims

If you are fighting for sole custody in Texas, you will likely need to back any of the claims mentioned in the section above with further evidence. As every case is built on unique circumstances, the evidence available to each person will be different. Your lawyer will be able to help you with the specifics of your case.

However, some examples of potential evidence include:

  • Text messages, emails, voicemails, social media posts, and other incriminating communications.
  • Official documents, including police reports, medical reports relating to abusive violence, proof of substance issues, and other things of this nature.
  • Witnesses such as neighbors, friends, or school teachers, who may be able to testify on the suitability of the other parent.

Hire An Attorney To Help You Win Custody In Texas

If you are fighting for your parental rights and want to achieve a specific type of custody in Texas, you need the assistance of a skilled and experienced lawyer from a reputable law firm to stand the best chance of achieving the result that you desire.

Family law is a complex and often emotionally charged field. You need a lawyer who will be able to navigate these legal complexities and ruthlessly defend your parental rights, all while preserving the peace as much as possible to keep your parent-child relationships intact. Here at The Love DuCote Law Firm LLC, that is the exact kind of service we pride ourselves in providing.

Win your custody battle with the help of an experienced lawyer from our firm. Call 832-471-6904 today!