Whenever you find yourself in the middle of a family legal dispute, your most important assets are attorneys for family law. The ideal family lawyer will have both years of training and of experience handling a variety of cases, including some similar to your own. When searching for the right attorney to represent your case, it helps to educate yourself about the family law process. Here are a couple of key terms you may hear your attorney use. By knowing what they mean, you are better prepared to give your attorney the info he needs to win the case.
The legally designated conservator of a child has the right and responsibility to make major decisions for the child's life. This includes education and school choices, medical decisions, and religious and moral upbringing. This is also sometimes referred to as custody. You may also hear your attorney make a distinction between legal custody and physical custody. A parent with legal custody has the authority to make decisions about the child's life, and will often share physical custody, or the right to take possession of the child.
Sole vs. Joint Custody
You may already be familiar with the terms sole custody or joint custody or conservatorship. Sole custody means that only one parent has conservatorship rights of a child. Joint custody means that custody is shared between both parents, while the parents are separated. Within this distinction, parents may share some rights, but not others. For instance, one parent may have legal custody and share physical custody, or they can share both equally, etc. Flexible arrangements can be made for anyone's family situation.
Possession and Access
In many cases where sole conservatorship is granted to one parent, often the other parent will still be allowed to see and spend time with the child. As mentioned previously, this is the same thing as one parent having physical custody of the child. In the state of Texas, schedules are used that dictate how much time the child spends with either parent. By collaborating with their child's other parent, many people are able to create a schedule that works best for everyone involved.
Whenever a custody court is overseeing a case, they have a legal precedent to look out for the best interests of the child. In general, this means they will examine the family, including the financial, physical, and emotional health of both parents, to create the best living arrangement for the child to grow up in. Above all else, this is the responsibility of the custody court.
In their investigation to determine the best interests of the child, the court may decide that the physical, educational, and emotional needs of the child will require the non-custodial parent to pay child support to the parent who has the right to designate a primary residence for the child. A parent may be required to pay child support even when they have not been granted possession and access to the child.