At the start of this article, I would like to say that if you are preparing for an hearing in which child support is an issue, but not who determines the primary residence of your children, then this article will not likely help you. When you and the other parent of your children cannot agree to whom shall be the parent who will establish the residence of the child for school purposes, or you cannot agree to rights and duties, then this article will provide some helpful advice.
I typically start at conception and then get up to speed with the last six months of the parent child relationship. Was the child planned? How much time did father spent with mom during the pregnancy? Did both the parents go to classes together? Then you look at birth and the 1st year. Did the mother nurse the child? How much time did mom take off work after the child was born? Was dad at the hospital when the baby was born? Who got up in the middle of the night to feed the child? If the baby was nursed, did the mother pump the breast milk and dad helped feed the child? Who gave the child baths during the 1st year? Normally after the 1st year then you start table food. Who prepared the meals? Who does the child laundry? Diapers, who changes and stocks them is also important. Health of the child, during the 1st year. Who took the child to the doctor? After the second year, the child will be more active. You will have potty training, play dates with friends and family, birthday parties. Which parent was more active? At school age, then you transition to your relationships with the child’s teachers and friends at school. Which parent is meeting with the teachers? Which parent does pick up and drop at the school? Could the child read when the child started kindergarten? What does attendance at school look like? The child’s grades will likely be the most important. Your ability to describe your interactions with the child on a daily basis will typically be where we start when we examine your fitness as a parent and which parent is going to determine the residence of the child.
The relationship that you have with your child’s other parent will be one of the most important topics in your trial. Your ability to make decisions together and communicate with each other is something that the court will give great weight. At the same time, if parental alienation is shown to occur from one parent, then this must also be discussed. Many times when custody is at issue, the relationship between both parents is poor. Seldom is communication such that decisions can be made jointly. Once the parents lawyer up, then the mudslinging starts, both paint a picture of wanting cooperation, but the other parent prevents this from occurring. You may get over this by not talking to child about the litigation, and also advising the other parent of activities and children’s events that the other parent should or could attend. For example, school events, birthday parties, and sports activity. Both parents typically have the right to attend these activities, when the child is not in their possession. Making sure the other parent has notice, shows your ability to facilitate communication and keep the other parent informed. Be on your best behavior, should the other parent attend these events and cheer together for your children.
You must have plan of action going forward to provide for your child. I have seen time and time again, no plan of action by one side in a child custody dispute. If the parties just recently separated, your finances are going to be changed. Your employment could be effected because of having to plan to pick up the child earlier than when you were together with your partner. Summer time results in extended periods with both parents, yet child support continues to have to be paid. Look at keeping the child active and on track to be a responsible self supporting adult. How is your daily, weekly, and monthly routine going to change if you are the primary parent?
Michael Busby Jr. is a divorce & family law attorney, who practices in Harris and Fort Bend Counties, Texas. He has been in practice for over 13 years and has tried over 400 cases. He is familiar with the policy and procedures of the Harris and Fort Bend County Texas Divorce Courts. Our office is open until 8:30 p.m. on Wednesdays and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. for working folks.
Michael Busby Jr.
2909 Hillcroft Suite 350
Houston, Texas 77057
Visit me on the web at www.busby-lee.com