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austin child custody lawyerIn many Texas divorce cases, parents can reach a child custody agreement that serves their children’s best interests. However, it is not uncommon for parents to have significant disagreements or even serious concerns about the other parent’s influence on the children. When this is the case, a child custody dispute may need to be resolved through litigation, and the court may seek input from a representative known as a guardian ad litem when making decisions regarding a child’s best interests.

If you are involved in a complex child custody dispute, it is important to understand the role of a guardian ad litem and how it may affect the outcome of your case.

What Does a Guardian ad Litem Do?

There are a few different kinds of child representatives that the court may appoint in a child custody suit, but a guardian ad litem, or GAL, is one of the most common. The primary role of a GAL is to provide information to the court regarding a child’s best interests. Often, a GAL is a professional or a representative from a volunteer organization with a specific focus on the well-being of children. Anyone who serves as a GAL must have sufficient knowledge and training to fulfill their appointed duties.

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TX divorce lawyerFor parents who share children under the age of 18, child custody decisions are central to the divorce process. In general, this is true for both biological and adopted children, though adoptive parents may be especially concerned about protecting their parental rights if they are uncertain how Texas law applies to these cases. If you need to address the custody of your adopted child, an experienced family law attorney can help you understand your rights and options under the law.

Texas Adoption Laws

To understand how your child custody case may be handled, it is first important to understand a few key facts about adoption in Texas. First of all, adopting a child gives the adoptive parent all of the same legal rights and responsibilities as a biological parent. Secondly, married couples are required to petition for adoption together. This means that if you adopted a child together during your marriage, you and your spouse have the same rights and responsibilities as each other. This gives both of you the standing to pursue custody during your divorce.

In order for an adoption to be approved in Texas, it is also necessary to terminate the parental rights of any biological parent who still has them. You may be concerned that a biological parent will attempt to intervene in your custody case during your divorce, but under Texas law, they do not have the legal standing to do so once their rights have been terminated.

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TX family lawyerIn Texas, child custody cases run the gamut from hotly contested legal disputes to amicable, mutual agreements, and everything in between. As a parent, you should know that any child custody matter comes with its own set of challenges. While a joint custody agreement may not be as emotionally draining and stressful as a contested custody trial, you can still benefit from the representation of an experienced family law attorney who can help you protect your children’s interests.

Establishing a Joint Managing Conservatorship

Under Texas law, there are several possible custody arrangements between parents who are unmarried or getting divorced. In some cases, one parent may be granted sole custody and visitation rights. In others, one parent may have primary decision-making authority regarding the child, while the other parent has scheduled visitation. However, the most cooperative custody arrangement is known as a joint managing conservatorship.

In a joint managing conservatorship, both parents have certain rights and responsibilities with respect to their children. These include the right to contribute to important decisions regarding the children’s education, health, well-being, and assets, as well as the right to access information related to these matters. Parents in a joint managing conservatorship also have the responsibility to keep each other reasonably informed of important information regarding the children, and to provide for the children’s care needs while the children are in their possession.

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TX family lawyerMany grandparents care deeply for their grandchildren, and it can be difficult for them to see their grandchildren being raised in an environment that they feel is not in the children’s best interests. Even harder is a situation in which the child’s parents prevent a grandparent from spending any time with their grandchild. It is not uncommon for grandparents in these cases to consider pursuing custody of their grandchildren. However, under Texas law, the circumstances under which a grandparent can file a custody suit are actually quite limited. If you find yourself in a dispute of this nature, whether you are the grandparent or the parent, an attorney can help you understand your rights.

Does a Grandparent Have Standing to File a Texas Custody Suit?

The Texas Family Code lists all of the parties that have standing to file a “suit affecting the parent-child relationship,” which includes custody suits. Some of the parties mentioned include the child’s parent, legal guardian, alleged father, or a governmental entity like the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. Grandparents, as well as certain other relatives like siblings, aunts, and uncles, can typically file a custody suit only if the child’s parents are both deceased.

However, there are a few other situations in which a grandparent may be able to file a suit even if one or both of the child’s parents are still living. One example is when the grandparent can provide evidence that the child’s current custody and living arrangements are detrimental to the child’s physical, mental, or emotional health or development. Another example is when any surviving parents have agreed to allow the grandparent to file suit.

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TX high net worth divorce attorneyFor parents, the end of a marriage usually means a child custody order is necessary to outline each parent’s rights and responsibilities regarding the children. However, in most divorce cases, the family’s living arrangements change well before the divorce is completed. As such, it is often important to make child custody decisions before the final resolution is approved. If you and your spouse are living apart while your divorce case is pending, petitioning for a temporary child custody order can help you resolve issues related to your children’s immediate living arrangements.

What Can a Temporary Custody Order Include?

Perhaps the most pressing issue in a pending divorce when the spouses are living separately is how much time the children will spend living with each parent. A temporary custody order can include a visitation schedule, as well as provisions for transportation and exchanges between parents. It can also address other important custody issues, such as how you and your spouse will share responsibilities for making important decisions about your children’s health and education during the divorce process.

Along with addressing custody and visitation, it is often important to address child support through a temporary order. Temporary child support decisions are usually handled similarly to more permanent child support orders, with the non-custodial parent making periodic payments to the custodial parent. This ensures that both parents are contributing financially to their children despite not living in the same household.

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