Child custody cases can become very complicated. Each family has different needs, and the family court must determine what is right for each particular family that comes to court. But every child custody case comes down to one simple question: what is in the best interests of the child? Fortunately, the assistance and representation of an experienced Copperas Cove child custody attorney can help you maximize your chances of convincing a court that your proposed child custody arrangement is best for your child.
Here are some of the factors a court will consider when determining what custody arrangements are best for the child:
The Current Relationship the Child Has with Each Parent
Examining each parent’s relationship with the child will help the court determine what custody arrangements are best. Young children, especially, can struggle with change, so the court will work to provide consistency. If, for example, one parent stayed home while the other went to work, this likely affects the relationship each parent has with the child. The court may want to keep a similar schedule in place until the children have time to adjust to separate parenting time schedules. Another common relationship problem arises with teenagers. Many teenagers have difficult relationships with their parents, and the court considers this when creating a parenting time schedule or making custody determinations. The court will not automatically deny custody to a parent simply because a teenager has problems with them. But custody and parenting time might be modified based upon that relationship. For example: if the parent and child go to family counseling, the court might gradually increase parenting time in accordance with the counselor’s recommendations. There are many different ways that both parenting time and custody can be arranged in order to best meet the needs of each child.
Each Parent’s Work Schedule
In creating a parenting time schedule, one of the most basic logistical challenges involves each parent’s work schedule. It does not make sense to award parenting time that falls entirely during that parent’s work schedule. This does not help the parent, the child, or their relationship. Many of the “standard” parenting time schedules are based on the assumption that each parent works during the day, and the children will be in school during that same time. Of course, not all families have this schedule. Even if a family does arrange a parenting time schedule that fits the parents' work schedule, this can change at any time. The coronavirus pandemic has drastically changed many parenting time schedules. Many parents are now working from home, and many children are not in the classroom. This means that at least one parent must usually be home to monitor remote learning. Once again, their bottom line is that a parenting time schedule must address each family’s individual needs. There is no “standard” schedule. Families can work together to create the parenting time schedule that works for them, and they can change this schedule as their needs change, as well.
Physical or Mental Health Conditions That Affect the Ability to Parent
Family court judges are usually quite careful not to deny custody or limit parenting time simply because one parent has a physical or mental limitation. But physical and mental health conditions can affect a person’s ability to parent. This, in turn, can raise the question of what is in the best interest of the child, and custody orders can be modified accordingly. Once again: custody or parenting time will not simply be denied outright because one parent has a physical or mental limitation. Instead, they will be modified to meet the best interests of the child while affording the parent as much parenting time and decision-making authority as possible. In many cases, these modifications are temporary. For example: if one parent is struggling with any type of substance abuse, the court will be concerned about how this affects the ability to parent. Custody might be temporarily awarded to the other parent, but only for as long as it takes for the other parent to get the help they need. Once that parent returns to court with proof of sobriety and evidence of a strong support network, the court will likely be satisfied that he or she can safely exercise parenting time and decision making rights. Parenting time can be reintroduced on a graduated schedule (or with temporary supervision). Once the parent has successfully proved that the child has enjoyed safe and sober parenting time, these restrictions can be removed.
Similar adjustments can be made for a parent’s physical limitations. Imagine that one parent is in a wheelchair and has difficulty in helping young children prepare for school in the morning. The court may adjust the parenting time schedule so that this parent has parenting time in the afternoon when there is not a rush to make it to school on time. When the children are older and able to get ready on their own, this could become a non-issue, and the parenting time schedule could be revised. Each parenting time schedule is flexible to the current needs of each unique family. When a parent’s physical or mental limitations affect their ability to parent, adjustments can be made to custody orders for as long as they are needed.
Any Special Needs the Child Has - And How Each Parent Addresses Them
Every child has their own individual needs, and some are more complicated than others. A child might have ongoing medical issues that require constant management and doctor’s visits. The child might have mental health challenges that require an individualized education plan, visits to a counselor, or even medical management. It is important that parents are able to meet these special needs appropriately. Suppose the court finds that one parent is meeting these needs and the other is not; that will affect the outcome of custody determinations. It is important that parents show the effort to meet with professionals, implement treatment plans, and try to address the unique needs of their child.
Call Us Today to Speak with a Child Custody Lawyer in Copperas Cove
Parenting rights are among the most personal legal rights a person has. Unlike personal injuries or breach of contract, there is no amount of money that will make up for a damaged relationship with your children. This is why it is so important to have an experienced child custody lawyer protecting your legal rights at every step of a divorce or custody case. Call (254) 220-4225 to schedule your free consultation with Attorney Brett H. Pritchard.