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Child Custody and Visitation Rights in San Antonio, Texas

If you have children and you’re contemplating a divorce, one of the first questions you’ll have is who’ll get the kids. Child custody—or conservatorship as it’s called in Texas—can be one of the main sticking points in a divorce. Each parent has rights unless he or she is an unfit parent. You’ll need the best attorney for divorce in San Antonio, Texas, in your corner.

Parenting Plan

Parents can file a parenting plan setting forth who is to have custody and who is to make decisions concerning the children. If parents can agree, it’ll save both time and money. When parents can’t agree, a court will decide whether the parents will have joint custody of the children or one parent will have sole custody. Courts favor joint custody.

Sole Custody

If sole custody is awarded, one parent will have physical custody of the child. That parent will have the sole authority to make decisions affecting the child, such as where the child will attend school, what religion the child will be exposed to, and what medical treatment the child will receive.

Joint Custody

With joint custody, parents share in the upbringing of the child. One parent may have primary custody with the other parent having visitation. The noncustodial parent may exercise visitation on alternating weekends and holidays, and he or she may spend time in the summer with the child. The child may alternate living with each parent for periods of time. The parents will share in decisions affecting the child.

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Visitation

The amount of a parent’s visitation will be set out in the parties’ parenting plan or the court’s order. The plan will set the time and frequency of the visitation, for example, every other weekend from 5 p.m. on Friday until 8 p.m. on Sunday. If the parents live several miles apart, the parties will agree to or the court will decide who bears the costs of transporting the child to the noncustodial parent.

Factors

The paramount concern for the court in determining who gets custody is the best interests of the children. Factors the court will consider include: 

  • the home environment and financial resources of each parent;
  • the parent’s ability to care for the child, including the work schedule of the parent;
  • the willingness of the parent to facilitate a relationship between the child and the other parent;
  • the relationship between the child and the parent before the divorce, and;
  • the child’s preference of which parent should have custody if the child is over 12 years old.

A common myth is that the mother will automatically get custody of the child. What was once known as the tender years doctrine no longer exists. A trial judge may decide the best interests of the child will be served by awarding custody to the father.

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