How to Get Full Custody of a Child in Texas

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Texas parents can get a child custody court order as part of a divorce or paternity decree or through a suit affecting the parent-child relationship. "Conservator" refers to any individual with parental rights regarding a child in Texas. "Managing conservators" make child-rearing decisions, while "possessory conservators" have the right to spend time with the child. As Texas encourages the development of a parent-child relationship between both parents and the child, state law presumes joint managing conservators unless the court has reasons to make a different order. A sole managing conservator has rights similar to a full custody arrangement.

Choose the method of filing for child custody that is most appropriate to your personal situation: married parents can file for child custody during divorce, an unmarried parent can file for child custody through a parentage action, parents can ask the office of the Texas Attorney General to consider conservatorship as part of an ongoing child support case or parents can file a separate lawsuit regarding the parent-child relationship. Contact the court clerk or the government office where you would like to file your child custody request and learn whether they require specific forms or other paperwork.

Prepare your child custody paperwork following the requirements issued by the appropriate state court or agency. Write that you would like to be your child's sole managing conservator. Explain why the other parent should not be a joint managing conservator by identifying any relevant reasons allowed in the Texas Family Code, such as if the other parent has perpetrated domestic violence, child abuse or child neglect, or the other parent has been absent for a long period of time, and provide credible evidence of those reasons to the court or agency. Discuss all reasons why you believe a sole managing conservator would be in your child's best interest.

Comply with social worker visits, psychiatric evaluations, drug and alcohol testing or other investigative procedures if required to do so by the court that will decide your child custody case. Cooperate with the amicus attorney or attorney ad litem, if appointed to help with your case, who will make recommendations to the court or agency regarding your child's best interest and your child's wishes.

Attend all hearing dates scheduled for your case. Emphasize to the court or agency that you would like to be the sole managing conservator and respectfully explain why you believe it would benefit your child.

Tips

  • Texas family law attorneys can give you legal advice regarding your parental rights under state law. Consult with a lawyer through a Texas legal aid organization, public interest organization or pro bono program if you need help with your child custody case and meet eligibility requirements for free or low-cost assistance. While a sole managing conservator has superior parental rights, the other parent may still retain some parental rights, such as visitation, depending on the court order.

Warnings

  • Follow the terms of your current child custody and visitation order until you have obtained court or agency approval to make any changes.

References

Resources

About the Author

Cindy Chung is a California-based professional writer. She writes for various websites on legal topics and other areas of interest. She holds a B.A. in education and a Juris Doctor.

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