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Georgetown Child Custody Attorneys

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Divorce cases are rarely easy. The time and attention required and the amount of stress accompanying the shift in lifestyle are enough to give pause to the most stoic among us. This is especially true for divorce cases that involve child custody contests. 

If you anticipate, or are in the process of, pursuing a child custody claim in Georgetown, you will almost certainly fall under the authority of numerous county, state, and local court rules. Navigating the Williamson County Local Rules, the state’s Third Court of Appeals, the Texas Supreme Court, and various other authorities can be a difficult task without qualified attorneys guiding the way. In this brief overview, we will outline some strategies for approaching Georgetown custody cases and a few key considerations when engaging with Williamson County courts.

The Best Interest of the Child

The Texas Family Code requires courts to consider the child’s best interest as the primary factor in all child custody case decisions. 

Even though the language of the statute is clear, it provides no guidance on what factors courts should consider when determining the child’s best interests or how heavily those factors should weigh against each other.

Divergent approaches to develop a Best Interest Test by courts across the state prompted the need for a unified method. In the seminal case, Holley v. Adams, the Texas Supreme Court ordered courts to consider nine factors when determining the child’s best interest. Today, Georgetown courts use the Holley Factors as a checklist when determining what is in the child’s best interest. These factors are: 

  • The desires of the child.
  • The emotional and physical needs of the child at the time and in the future.
  • Any emotional and physical danger posed to the child at the time and in the future.
  • The parental abilities of those seeking custody.
  • The availability of programs to assist those seeking custody to promote the best interest of the child.
  • These individuals’ plans for the child.
  • The stability of the home or proposed placement.
  • The acts or omissions of the parents that may indicate that the existing parent-child relationship is not a proper one.
  • Any excuses for the acts or omissions of the parents.

As courts are required to consider the nine factors listed above, take some time to analyze them with your lawyer when developing legal arguments to support your position.

Types of Child Custody

Sole Managing Conservator

Sole managing conservators, generally have the exclusive right to determine the child’s primary residence, the right to consent to various medical and psychological treatments, the right to receive periodic child support payments, the right to make decisions about the child’s education, and more. As the name implies, sole managing conservators have the most control over decisions that affect the child’s day-to-day life. Parents that do not obtain sole managing conservator status will have significantly less authority to make decisions regarding their child.

Joint Managing Conservator

Joint managing conservators share the rights and responsibilities of raising the child with the other party. Typically, both parents will be named joint managing conservators, with decision types split between them. Many courts understand the benefits that shared decision-making can have on a child’s development. Consequently, this type of conservatorship is the most common of conservatorships granted by Georgetown courts and is usually presumed to be in the best interest of the child. As we briefly mentioned above, decision types are often split between joint managing conservators. For example, it is common for courts to grant one conservator to have the exclusive right to designate the child’s primary residence, or to limit a conservator’s choice of residence to a particular geographic region. Similarly, possession periods for joint managing conservators may not necessarily be an equal 50/50 split. Instead, one parent may receive a greater period of possession by the Court if it is determined to be in the child’s best interest due to their familial structure.

Possessory Conservator

Courts can also accommodate family structures that diverge from the traditional, nuclear family unit. Possessory conservators are individuals who may not be one of the child’s parents, but nonetheless may have the right to possess the child during specified periods of time and under certain conditions. A common possessory conservator is the child’s grandparent. Possessory conservators have the same parental rights as other conservatorships during their period of possession.

Agreed Parenting Plan

Georgetown courts routinely encourage joint managing conservators to accept agreed parenting plans. An agreed parenting plan is a document which is created—collaboratively—between joint managing conservators. However, agreed parenting plans must meet the following requirements:

  • Either designate the conservator who will have the exclusive right to determine the primary residence of the child; or provide that the primary residence of the child will be within a certain geographic area;
  • If one conservator receives the exclusive right to determine the primary residence of the child, the parenting plan must either (1) establish the geographic area within which the conservator must maintain the primary residence of the child; or (2) specify that the conservator may determine the primary residence of the child without regard to geographic location;
  • Expressly state the rights and duties of each parent regarding the present and future physical care, support, and education of the child;
  • Contain provisions to minimize disruption of the schooling, daily routine of the child, or his or her association with friends;
  • Assign and apportion between the parents, solely, concurrently, or jointly, all the remaining rights and duties of a parent as provided by the Texas Family Code.
  • Have been entered into voluntarily and knowingly by each parent and must not have been repudiated by either parent at the time the order is rendered; and
  • As always, be in the best interest of the child.

Contact a Georgetown Child Custody Attorney Today

If you would like more information regarding child custody, or any other family law related matter, contact Kirker | Davis LLP to schedule a meeting with a lawyer today.

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    • "The divorce process is not an easy one, but I always felt fully supported, informed, and guided by Chris and the staff. Chris always laid out the options, made me aware of the risks, and provided me with recommendations, but he also gave me the flexibility to work out things with my ex where I could, to speed up the process and avoid some legal expenses. I highly recommend Chris for family law representation. ”

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    • "I praise Attorney Alyse Donnelly for all the hard work and hours she put in my divorce case. I believe that her experience, knowledge, and quick thinking resulted in beneficial results on my behalf. Ms. Donnelly along with Paralegal Stacy O’Brien and Attorney Michelle Fontenot are definitely assets to the Kirker Davis law firm. ”

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