Child Custody in Houston

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Child Custody is a general term to describe possession, access, rights, and duties to a child.  This lawsuit in Houston, Texas is known as a Suit Affecting the Parent Child Relationship. You can ask for a temporary restraining order if you file child custody law suit. You will have a hearing on temporary orders about two to six weeks after the case has been filed. Cases take up to a year to bring to final trial. If you need an order now, then you need to ask for temporary orders.  Parties who are related to the child, such as grandparents, can file this type of suit.  The typical child custody law suit is contested between mother and father or boyfriend and girlfriend.  The parents had a relationship and then perhaps one went to jail or the relationship ended because of personality conflicts.  It could happen that when the relationship ends, the involved parties couldn’t work out time with the child or decide on who will watch the child while the other one goes for work. In Texas, the right to determine the child’s residence can be agreed upon by the parties, determined by the Judge, or by a jury of your peers.  I have explained below certain terms with their definitions and key points that are often used in Houston Child Custody cases.

Joint Managing Conservatorship

This is the presumption in Houston, Texas that parties are named joint managing conservators.  The parties may agree to the designations themselves and the judge rules, otherwise a jury renders a verdict.  There are 10 rights and duties that give rise to conflict after parties are named Joint Managing Conservators:

  • Schooling and Education Decision Making
  • Invasive Medical, Dental, and Surgical Decision Making
  • Psychological and Psychiatric Decision Making
  • Religious Decision Making
  • Financial Welfare Decision Making
  • Legal Rights and Representation
  • Employment Decision Making
  • Involvement in Arts, Camps, Clubs, Sports, and Other Extra-Curricular Activities
  • Consent to Marriage
  • Consent to Armed Forces Enlistment

These rights could be exclusive to one parent, joint, or independent in nature.

Exclusive- One parent makes all the decisions.  It may happen that the exclusive rights parent may have to consult the other parent and then makes the decisions.

Joint– Both parties have to agree to the decisions to be made.

Independent– One party may make the decisions without any consultation with the other parent.

Sole Possessory Conservatorship

If you are appointed a sole possessory conservator then you will have the rights above exclusively under the Texas family code.

Possessory Conservator

This type of conservator has limited decision making power when it comes to the children but still can have a standard possession order.  Typically, this happens when a parent has done drugs recently or has not participated in the upbringing of the child.


The presumption in Texas is a standard possession order, which typically allows visitation every Thursday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. during the school year but not summer, and every 1st, 3rd, and 5th weekend from 6 p.m. Friday to 6 p.m. on Sunday.  30 days in the summers, and you rotate all the traditional Christian holidays.  You can customize your order for Hindu, Muslim, or Jewish holidays and other faiths but you should review the local school schedule to make sure conflicts with the schools schedule are reduced.  An election can be made to expand out the standard possession schedule by taking the child during the school year every Thursday when school lets out and returning the child Friday after school.  On the weekends, you would take the child when school lets out on Friday and return the child at school on Monday.  This would give the non-possessory parent 1st, 3rd, and 5th Thursday when school lets out till school resumes on Monday.

Child Custody Elements to Consider

When you are fighting relating to who must have the right to determine the residence or any of the presumption above, then the court and the jury will usually look at the following elements and apply to your facts.

  • The acts or omissions of the parties
  • Who takes the child to the doctor
  • The age of the child and whether or not the mother is breast feeding
  • Who has taken the child to school traditionally and met with the teachers
  • Activities that the child has been involved in such as sports, dancing, or social groups
  • Special Needs of the child
  • The parents work schedule
  • The relationship parents have with each other and how they have cooperated in the past in the upbringing of the child
  • The current family support that the parties have available in the region
  • Who has traditionally done those things that are customary in the upbringing of the child, i.e., diaper changing, baths, feeding, homework, birthday parties, and school registration.

The factors above are meant to be general in nature to give you an idea of what type of due diligence and questioning I will ask you when you come to see me and we troubleshoot your facts.

Drug Testing and Supervised Visitation

In Harris county family law courts, it is very easy to get a drug test.  Should you test positive, expect to have supervised visitation with the child until you have a clean drug screen.  Most drugs test are hair follicle, you can also ask for a finger nail test.  Supervised visitation can be requested and ordered when one parents has beaten the child or the other parent, placed the child in a dangerous situation, or acted in such a way, as to raise alarm as to the parent’s ability to be alone with the child.

How to File Suit

You would need to come to our office and talk with one of our Houston Child Custody Lawyers, or with me.  Suit is usually filed within a day.  You can ask for a temporary order if you believe that the other party is a flight risk, or because of any other reason that would warrant a need for an immediate court intervention.  You typically have these types of hearings in about 3 to 5 weeks.  Final trial is in about 10 months.  During the time the case is filed and up until the trial, you undergo fact finding and document production.  When this is done and judge sets you for the final trial, then you go and present your facts and ask judge or jury to rule.