Possession And Access: What To Know
Child custody and visitation – or, as we call them here in Texas, possession and access – are easily the part of divorce that concerns parents the most. You worry whether you will have enough time with your children. You wonder how the court process even works.
At The Karenko Law Firm PLLC, I can answer your questions and address your concerns. I’m attorney Juliann Karenko, and for 30-plus years, I have helped clients throughout Galveston Bay with all issues related to possession and access. On this page, I have provided answers to some of the questions that I hear most frequently.
What is child custody (possession)?
Until a child turns 18 years of age, they need a physical and legal guardian to care for them and make important decisions on their behalf. There are two aspects to child custody: legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody is the authority to make legal decisions regarding the child’s future. Physical custody, however, describes where the child lives on a daily basis.
How does the judge decide who should have custody?
In Texas family court, the judge will base his custody decision on several different factors, including:
- The parents’ wishes
- Whether both parents are fit guardians
- The child’s wishes
- The child’s relationship with each parent
- The child’s school and home environment
- The mental and physical health of each parent
- Which parent spends more time with the child
- Which parent can better provide and further the child’s education
- The parenting styles
- The geographical proximity between parents
If both parents seem fit for the job and live relatively close, the judge will most likely grant joint physical and legal custody. If one parent fails to meet the court’s standards, the other parent will usually get physical custody.
How does visitation work?
Visitation typically goes to the noncustodial parent so they can have frequent visits with their child and stay active and connected in their life. The courts will set up a fixed visitation agreement that gives the noncustodial parent time to spend with them. This may include sleepovers, certain weekends, shared holidays, weekday evenings, or school vacations. Each case will be different and will be specifically tailored to meet the child’s needs and schedule. If one parent has a history of domestic violence, there may be cases where supervised visitation is necessary if the safety of the child is in question.
What are different possible custody arrangements?
There are two different types of custody agreements that can be implemented in your case. There is sole custody and joint custody. Sole custody gives one parent the exclusive authority to make major decisions for the child. This also means that they are the custodial parent, so the child will live with them on a regular basis. The other parent may or may not have visitation rights to the child.
In cases where joint custody is granted to both parents, they much consult and agree on all legal decisions on the child’s behalf. This also means that the parents will share physical custody and take turns having continuous contact with their child. The physical custody arrangement might not be 50/50 even, but the court will arrange a certain schedule that best fits the best interests and needs of the child.
Can I modify an existing court order?
Life often changes significantly. If you experience a recent major change that affects your possession and access order, you may petition the court for a modification. Qualifying circumstances include:
- Change in a job
- Relocation farther away or closer to child
- Child started at a new school
- Presence of domestic abuse, addiction or mental illness
- Change in child’s medical needs
- Change in child’s preference
These situations may prompt the court to revisit your existing order and make appropriate modifications.
Have More Questions? Ask Me.
You probably have many more questions that you do not see answered here. At The Karenko Law Firm PLLC, I can provide the wise answers that you need. I also supply 30-minute consultations in which we can discuss access and possession. To reach me about your consultation, please call 409-515-7063 or send me an email.