If you cannot agree on custody terms with your child's other parent and you desire full custody of your child, you will need to be prepared to engage in a custody battle. . Obtaining full custody in Texas is difficult as there is a presumption that joint custody will be most beneficial to the child. Before you begin, determine if you already have a custody order regarding your child. If you have not previously filed for custody you will need to seek a new custody order with the court. If you already have an custody order, you will seek to modify that order.
Seeking a Custody Order
Obtain a petition form for a suit affecting the parent-child relationship from the Family Clerk's Office at your local Texas courthouse. Inquire as to the fee for filing the form
.Complete the parent-child-relationship petition form by providing the court with the requested information including the relevant parties, your standing with the court, the appropriate jurisdiction, information related to your child and other information. Be sure to indicate that you are seeking a sole managing conservator position as this is the only way to obtain full custody. File the form with the Family Clerk's Office and pay the applicable fee.
Attend all court hearings associated with your petition for child custody. Factors that will be assessed in determining child custody will include care of the child, maintaining family relationships and parenting skills. In order to convince the court that sole custody of the child is in the child's best interest, you will need to present evidence that the other parent is unable or unwilling to care for the child or that the other parent has abused the child. You may also be required to attend other court-mandated appointments such as drug and psychological evaluations.
Modifying a Custody Order
Obtain a copy of your original child custody order. Determine the name of the judge who made your original custody order.
Draft a motion to modify your original custody order indicating that you desire to be the sole managing conservator. Your motion should include reasons why the original custody order is no longer applicable and the court should reconsider that order. Schedule your motion for presentation before the original judge and send a copy of the motion to the child's other parent.
Argue your motion before the court. You will need to present evidence to convince the court that you should have full custody of your child.
Tips & Warnings
Courtroom procedures vary throughout Texas so be sure to study all applicable state and local rules.
Texas family lawyers are knowledgeable about courtroom procedures and local court rules. You should not attempt to enter a custody battle without consulting a family lawyer.
References & Resources
- Findlaw: Child Custody in Texas
- Findlaw: How to Get Custody
- Texas Child Custody: Tips for Raising your Odds of Winning a Texas Child Custody Battle
- Texaslawhelp.org: Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship (SAPCR)
- Womans Divorce: How is Custody Determined
- O'Neil Attorneys: So You Want Sole Custody?? Part One
- Texas Child Custody: Texas Child Custody Law
- Findlaw: Law on Divorce and Child Custody - Texas
- WomensLaw.org: Custody
- Linda Stanley, P.L.L.C.: Texas' Standard Custody Order
- Attorney General of Texas: Frequently Asked Questions
- All Law: Child Support Calculator
- Pixland/Pixland/Getty Images