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Collin County Child Custody LawyerParents frequently disagree about how to resolve matters related to child custody in a divorce, but sometimes these conflicts can become extreme. This is especially true when there are allegations of abuse or neglect from one or both parties. Getting to the truth can be difficult, and judges may be unsure of the best outcome for a particular case. When this happens, a common solution is for a judge to appoint a professional known as a “child custody evaluator” to a particular case. If you are involved in a court dispute over your minor children, whether during or after divorce, and a custody evaluator has been assigned to your case, it is important to understand the role of this professional and how you should behave to optimize your case’s outcome. 

What is a Custody Evaluator? 

A custody evaluator is a mental health professional who is also sometimes an attorney. Her job is to gather as much information as possible about a particular case. In order to get the information she needs, she can do the following: 

  • Complete psychological evaluations of both parents, their romantic partners (if applicable), and all children 

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Posted on in Child Custody

collin county grandparent visitation lawyerIn an ideal situation, a child is brought up with healthy regular contact with both parents, as well as all grandparents. In reality, of course, things don’t always work out this way, particularly when it comes to grandparents. Grandparents often play a vital role in the development of children, but the law simply doesn’t give too much weight to grandparents when it comes to legal rights with respect to grandchildren. In the State of Texas, grandparents can obtain legal custody of a grandchild, but doing so is quite difficult. When compared with legal custody, grandparents may seek a visitation order with grandchildren. But, as we will discuss, even obtaining a visitation order from a Texas court isn’t easy. 

The Basics of Grandparent Visitation Orders

The difficulty in obtaining a visitation order for grandparents ultimately derives from the simple fact that parents have the highest influence when it comes to their children. Consider this point: if grandparents can simply acquire a visitation order without much trouble, how would this affect the parents’ ability to raise their child? Texas courts recognize the importance of grandparents, and the role that grandparents play in the lives of grandchildren, but courts must follow the principle that parents have the ultimate authority.

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frisco visitation lawyerParental visitation is a very serious matter. The State of Texas believes firmly that children do best when they have regular, supportive interaction with both biological parents – or, with both adoptive parents, as the case may be. This is why Texas courts have an elaborate system in place to ensure that court-ordered visitation schedules are enforced properly. In a typical scenario, parents develop a custody agreement, and as part of that agreement one parent has a visitation schedule. That visitation schedule allows the non-custodial parent to visit his or her child in a predictable fashion. 

The problem, however, is that sometimes the visitation schedule is denied or not honored by the other parent. Sad though this may sound, sometimes the other parent may attempt to block contact between the children and the non-custodial parent. In these unfortunate scenarios, how can the visitation order be enforced? Let’s look at the steps involved.

Step #1: Ensure that No Modification / Clarification is Necessary

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Collin County child custody lawyerIt is a common, but incorrect, belief that in a divorce, the mother will prevail and have child custody issues decided predominantly in her favor. Under Texas law, all judicial decisions regarding child custody must be decided in the best interests of the children involved. The gender of a parent is rarely relevant to this consideration.  

In many cases, living primarily with the father is found to be in the best interests of the child. This is especially true if there is any factor suggesting that the mother could be potentially harmful to the children or is a less fit parent than the father. Fathers are frequently apprehensive at the outset of child custody proceedings out of concern that courts may be biased against them. While on a subtle level, some judges may have a slight bias in favor of the mother, outright discrimination is verboten. It is still prudent for a father entering child custody proceedings, incident to divorce or otherwise, to be represented by an attorney who is experienced in protecting the rights of fathers

How Are Child Custody Decisions Made at the Judicial Level in Texas?

Many child custody disputes are not decided by a judge at all, but by the parents using collaborative family law techniques such as mediation. This is the preferred route by many parents; however, in some cases it is necessary to bring the case before a judge so that the court can make decisions when the parents are unable to agree on a reasonable division of decision-making powers and physical custody schedule. 

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Texas courts prioritize keeping both parents positively involved in children's lives when they divorce or separate. Under a custody order, a child usually lives primarily with one parent, but both typically receive joint custody and work together to make important decisions for their child.

However, when your former partner's drug or alcohol abuse or addiction puts your child's safety at risk, there are steps you can take to protect them by changing a child custody order. Texas law allows modifications when a material or substantial change occurs in the parent-child relationship.

How courts respond to substance abuse claims

Texas family courts generally take quick action when a co-parent's substance abuse problems affect their ability to care for their children. This applies to those who abuse illicit drugs or misuse prescription medications. How courts react typically depends upon when the issue is raised:

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