There is no end to the issues a problematic spouse can create when custody is disputed. Since parents are customarily appointed to be joint managing conservators, with equal say in making important decisions for the child, disagreements may arise in major areas regarding issues such as where the child should be educated, what medical and dental care the child should receive, and what religious training should be provided. Problems frequently occur if one parent wants sole managing conservatorship and the other parent does not agree.
Issues also arise in regard to physical custody – how much time the child should spend in the home of each parent, what visitation schedules should be set up, and what relatives are allowed access to the child.
When There’s a Disagreement Between Parents
If parents do not agree, the courts will decide for them. Special considerations may apply if the child is under 3 or if a judge is concerned for the child’s safety and issues an order for supervised possession. This may happen when one parent is a risk for abduction or has issues that can endanger the child, such as substance abuse, a history of physical abuse, mental health problems, or lives with another person with these types of issues.
If there is a history of one parent’s abusing the children, that parent is unlikely to be granted any sort of custody and may be required to have only supervised visitation or none at all. In addition, parents who are unwilling to cooperate or who try to undermine and badmouth the other parent in front of the children are less likely to receive custody rights.
When Safety is an Issue
If you already have a custody agreement but circumstances have created concerns about your child’s safety, you may apply to modify custody by showing that there has been a significant change in a party’s circumstances. The courts will modify custody if it is in the best interests of the child and:
1.) the parents agree,
2.) the child is 12 years old or older and tells the court to change the primary caretaker,
3.) the person with the right to determine the primary residence relinquishes care and possession of the child for at least 6 months, or
4.) there has been a material and substantial change in the circumstances of either the child, the parent, the conservator or another significant party.
When you’re having custody issues because your spouse or former spouse isn’t cooperating, you might want to consider enlisting the help of an attorney. An attorney will know the law and the best course of legal action to pursue on behalf of you and your child.
The Austin child custody attorneys at the Evans Law Firm offer free consultations to help you better understand your legal options. We want to hear more about your case, so you can find the best path forward. Contact the family law attorneys at the Evans Law Firm today to schedule your free case evaluation.