There is no more important relationship than that of a parent and a child. If you are beginning the process of divorce or you have had a child outside of marriage, you have a legal right to time with your child and a legal responsibility to provide child support , but you need to safeguard your rights.
Attorney Carolyn Hopper Young , works with parents and grandparents to ensure children are protected and nurtured. She has been working in family courts in the greater Austin, Round Rock, and Georgetown area for over 23 years. She understands how the Travis, Williamson, and Hays County family law judges view child custody and visitation and can give you realistic legal advice and straightforward answers to your questions.
Who Determines What’s in the “Best Interest” of the Child?
Often parents are in basic agreement about what they would like to see regarding custody and visitation. In these cases, the parents and children meet with a parent coordinator assigned by the family court to coordinate a custody agreement.
When parents disagree, they may seek the advice of a child custody evaluator (usually a child psychologist). A child custody evaluator meets separately with each parent and with the children, makes an assessment and reports it to the court. If you are unhappy with the assessment, it is possible to fight that in court as well with a second assessment.
Arriving at a Visitation Schedule that Works
In Texas, a “possession schedule” defines where the child lives and when the child is in the custody of the other parent. The state legislature has defined a standard possession schedule that the court will impose on your family if you do not present the judge with a visitation plan that has been customized for your specific family needs. That schedule does not work for everyone.
It’s important to create a detailed and personalized custody and visitation plan that is specific to your family. This will be one of the most important documents for you and your child for years to come so it pays to do it right at the beginning.
Modification of Custody and Visitation
As time goes by, situations change. Parents work schedules change. After-school activities begin to interfere with visitation. And sometimes parents must relocate for employment. If you need to change a custody and visitation agreement, going back to family court to seek a modification of your court order protects you should the other parent bring a complaint that you have violated the court order.
Parental Relocation and Child Move Away Situations
It’s especially important to take your case back to court if you want to relocate with your child. Both parents have a right to spend time with their child. A custodial parent cannot make a one-sided decision to take the child away from the other parent by moving to another state.
If you have questions about child custody or you need legal representation for a custody case, a modification of custody or relocation, contact the law office of family lawyer Carolyn Hopper Young to schedule a consultation. The Austin law firm protect the rights of mothers, fathers and grandparents to maintain their relationships with children and grandchildren.