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San Antonio Child Custody Attorney

Experienced San Antonio Custody Lawyer Working with You to Protect Your Child’s Rights & Best Interests

Child custody disputes are often the most contentious part of divorce and paternity cases. As a parent engaged in a custody matter, you may be worried that you’ll get less time with your child than you believe is equitable.

At The Law Office of Derek S. Ritchie, PLLC, we have worked with many families struggling with child custody matters. We are very well aware of each case's uniqueness and treat each with the individual attention required to pursue an optimal outcome.

Do I Need an Attorney for Child Custody in Texas?

It's generally advisable to have a lawyer for a child custody case in Texas. A Texas lawyer can help with evidence collection, document completion, and support throughout the legal process.

Our San Antonio custody attorney will work with you to protect your and your child’s rights and best interests throughout your case. Family matters are especially sensitive, and you can rest assured that when you hire our child custody lawyer in San Antonio, you will not only be working with a professional who knows the ins and outs of the legal system related to family law but also with an individual who genuinely cares about your situation.

To speak with our veteran San Antonio custody attorney about your case, contact us online or via phone at (210) 702-2203.

How Does Child Custody (Conservatorship) Work in TX?

Texas uses the word “conservatorship” as the legal term for custody in the state.

In a conservatorship, parents can occupy two “roles”:

  • Custodial parent: The custodial parent is the caretaker the child spends most of their time with.
  • Non-custodial parent: The non-custodial parent is the caretaker the child spends a minority of their time with.

There are also two types of custody:

  • Physical custody, which determines where a child lives, and;
  • Legal custody, which determines how much control each parent has over a child’s rights (such as the medical care they receive, where they attend school, the cultures they’re exposed to, etc.).

Two primary types of conservatorships are common during child custody disputes:

  1. Joint managing conservatorships (JMCs): In a JMC, the child spends time living with each parent. Whichever parent the child spends more time with (even if it’s just one more night per year) is considered the custodial parent. Generally, the custodial parent can decide where the child lives, which can also impact other factors, such as the school they attend. Courts often try to establish JMCs under the assumption that it’s generally healthy for children to spend a certain amount of time with each parent growing up. Depending on the circumstances of the case, the parents may have a nearly equal timeshare (meaning the child spends almost the same amount of time living with each parent) or one that’s slightly less balanced.
  2. Sole managing conservatorships (SMCs): In an SMC, the child only lives with one parent. That caretaker, the custodial parent, also generally has total control over the child’s physical and legal custody. Sole managing conservatorships are more common when one parent has been deemed “unfit” to act as a caretaker by the court. 
    A court may think an SMC is necessary if:
    1. One parent has a history of violence against the child or their former spouse;
    2. One parent has a history of substance abuse;
    3. One parent has been largely absent from the child’s life.

However, it may still be possible for the other parent to see their child as a possessory conservator. Possessory conservators may only have visitation rights and may need to visit their child with another individual present to ensure they do not harm them.

How Long Do Custody Cases Take in Texas?

A custody case in Texas can take anywhere from a few months to several years. The length of time depends on various factors. If you and your ex-partner agree on a custody plan, the process can be relatively quick and easy. In an uncontested custody case, you may be able to settle within a few months or even weeks.

However, if you can't agree on a custody plan, the process can take much longer. In a contested custody case, you may have to go to court multiple times, which could drag on for months or even years.

What Factors Can Influence Custody Arrangements?

The court prioritizes the child's best interests when determining child custody arrangements. This foundational principle guides the decision-making process, ensuring that the outcome is focused on what is most advantageous for the child's overall well-being.

Some of the factors the court may consider when deciding what’s in the child’s best interests include:

  • Each parent’s ability to provide a stable home environment: An essential aspect examined by the court is the ability of each parent to create a stable and nurturing home environment for the child. This assessment involves evaluating the parents' living situation, financial stability, and capacity to meet the child's basic needs.
  • Child’s age, preferences, and emotional well-being: The child's age, emotional well-being, and physical needs also play a significant role in custody determinations. When deciding custody arrangements, the court considers the child's developmental stage and emotional maturity. Additionally, if the child is of sufficient age and maturity, their preferences may be considered by the court as long as they align with their best interests.
  • Assessment of emotional or physical danger: The court seriously considers any potential emotional or physical danger to the child. This includes evaluating the current and potential risks the child might face in the custody of either parent. The court aims to safeguard the child from harm and create a safe environment for their upbringing.
  • Impact of existing family relationships and support systems: The court also examines the existing family relationships and support systems. This involves assessing the child's relationships with siblings, extended family members, and other significant individuals in the child's life. The court acknowledges the importance of maintaining these connections when determining custody arrangements.

Flexibility in Consideration

Courts have the flexibility to consider factors beyond those mentioned above. This ensures that the court comprehensively understands the child's situation before reaching a final custody decision. The overarching goal is to create an arrangement promoting the child's best interests and overall well-being.

To speak with an experienced child custody attorney in San Antonio, contact us online or give us a call at (210) 702-2203.

How Do Parent Relationships Affect Child Custody In Texas?

The parents' relationship with one another often plays a central role in the outcome of child custody cases.

When the parents are amicable and agree regarding a conservatorship arrangement, they can develop a parenting plan together. The parenting plan lays out the type of conservatorship and timeshare schedule the parents want to obtain. A court can then approve the parenting plan, finalizing the conservatorship order. This is often the least combative, fastest way to finalize a custody dispute.

Alternatively, suppose the parents disagree on how to approach custody. In that case, they can attend court and make their arguments to a family law judge, including presenting a proposed parenting plan by each party. The court will then make a final judgment establishing a legally binding conservatorship arrangement for the parents. This process is often longer and more expensive but may be necessary if the parents cannot agree on terms for a conservatorship.

Regardless of how you intend to approach custody, you deserve a legal advocate you can trust to represent your (and your child’s) needs, rights, and best interests in and out of the courtroom.

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At The Law Office of Derek S. Ritchie, you are our priority. See the different experience makes in our clients' own words.

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    Derek is a great attorney! Not only is he knowledgeable and reliable, but he takes care of his clients like they’re his family. Would highly recommend his services!

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    He went above and beyond what we expected. We will forever recommend his law firm. Mr. Ritchie and Mrs. Vanessa were so much help they kept us informed... just when we thought we knew all the information they gave us more.

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    Derek was very knowledgeable and sympathetic to my situation. He answered all my questions and I feel much better about the journey I have ahead of me.

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