Emily T. Ross - Child Custody Attorney San Antonio, TX
Dedicated and Effective Child Custody Attorney
Dedicated to providing you with the utmost care and attention.
Committed to finding real world solutions to real world problems.
Tirelessly working to get you the results you need and deserve.
“Emily represented my case with compassion and care. She took the time listen to me and provide professional advise for my particular case. She paid special attention to my personal situation easing tension in an already difficult time. Emily always responded promptly and never left loose ends, she is a great legal representative as long as we do our part! I highly recommend her legal advice.”
Custody Lawyer Questions
Child Custody Attorney Protecting Your Rights
We also acknowledge that such resolutions are not always possible, and in those instances, you need the aggressive representation of a child custody attorney who understands how to effectively and confidently present your case to a Court. Enabling the most desirable result.
No matter your specific situation, together we will explore your available options and determine the most effective course of action.
If you have questions about custody and want to know your options, contact our San Antonio, TX office at (210) 985-1230.
Real World Problems Need Real World Solutions
- Conservatorship (Legal Custody)
- Possession and Access (Physical Custody or Visitation)
- Child and Medical Support
- Modification of Court Orders
- Enforcement of Court Orders
Conservatorship, also known as Legal Custody
Texas law defines conservatorship as a parent’s or caretaker’s legal rights and duties toward their children, and aims to protect the best interest of the child. Depending on the history of the child’s family and what’s in the child’s best interest, conservators can be parents, relatives, or other caregivers. Unless it is not in the child’s best interest, Texas law assumes that parents or caregivers will share in the rights and duties of raising the child; this is called joint managing conservatorship (JMC). Joint managing conservatorship does not mean equal rights or equal time to the child. Unless otherwise agreed to by the parties, the Court will specify which person has the right to determine where the child will primarily live; this person is called the child’s primary conservator or custodial parent, and the other person will be the noncustodial parent or caregiver.
If appointing the parties as JMCs will significantly harm the child’s emotional or physical well-being, the Court can appoint one party as the sole managing conservator. For example, substance abuse, domestic violence, or other harmful conduct affecting the child can limit a parent or caregiver’s legal rights and physical custody of the child.
Rights will be allocated either:
Exclusively: one parent or caregiver makes the decision to the exclusion of the other;
Independently: each parent or caregiver can make the decision without consulting with the other; or
Jointly: the caregivers must agree before making a decision; this is usually accompanied by a tiebreaker contingency plan if they are unable to reach an agreement.
Examples of key issues when addressing conservatorship include:
- Where and with whom will the child primarily live;
- Who will make decisions about where the child will go to school and other decisions about the child’s education or extracurricular activities;
- Who will make decisions about the child’s medical care;
- Who will make decisions about whether the child sees a counselor or another professional for psychiatric or psychological care; and
- Scope and parameters of medical, psychiatric, or psychological care.
Attorney with Experience, Skills, and Compassion
Disputes over who will be the child’s primary caregiver can turn ugly if handled as a win-lose game rather than as a practical matter that must fit the realities of the family’s past, present, and future circumstances; this is even more important when keeping in mind that handling such matters improperly has a very real potential to cause emotional harm to the child. You need an attorney with the necessary experience, skills, and compassion to advocate your interests and create long-term, practical solutions which not only withstand these complex problems, but benefit you personally, emotionally, and financially.
In rare circumstances, such as proven sexual or physical abuse, incarceration, or a serious drug problem left untreated will a Court severely restrict or withhold a parent’s legal rights to their child. More often than not, a Court will appoint the parties’ JMCs. If there is a dispute over who will be the child’s primary parent, the Court will look to factors several factors affecting the child’s best interest to determine which party is better able to care for the child:
- Which party has historically been the child’s primary caregiver?
- Who can best meet the physical and emotional needs of the child now and in the future?
- Is either party a physical or emotional danger to the child?
- Which party has a more stable home environment?
- What are each party’s plans for the child?
- Which party is better able to coparent with the other party and reach shared decisions?
- Does either party demonstrate inappropriate parenting skills?
Possession and Access, also known as Physical Custody
Generally, a Court will order that the party not appointed the child’s primary conservator have periods of possession to the child, also known as a visitation schedule. Orders can also be created to set terms of access; for example, periods of electronic or telephone communication. A Court will presume that a visitation schedule according to the terms of a standard possession order (SPO) is in the child’s best interest unless it can be shown that it is not in the child’s best interest or there is another sufficient reason not to order this schedule; for example, it doesn’t work with the noncustodial parents work schedule, living conditions, or other personal circumstances.
If it is not in the child’s best interest for a parent to have an SPO, orders can be crafted to address any specific concerns while promoting a child’s relationship with the noncustodial parent to the extent possible. For example, if the noncustodial parent has a drug problem, an order can give that parent regular supervised visitation for short periods during the day that progressively expand to an SPO so long as certain conditions are being met (the party is passing drug tests, attending therapy, etc.); if certain conditions are not met, their visits are again restricted. This is an example of another benefit of reaching an amicable solution with the other party; the parties have the ability to reach creative visitation agreements that monitor the noncustodial parent’s sobriety and allow that parent the opportunity to be a healthy part of the child’s life, but also contains a contingency plan to avoid going back to Court in case of relapse.
Child Custody Attorney Modification of Court Orders
The terms of an order addressing custody, visitation, or child support may need to be changed from time to time if there has been a material and substantial change in the circumstances of a party, child or other person affected by the order since the last order that renders the current order no longer workable. Additionally, child support is subject to be reviewed and modified every 3 years if the monthly amount of support differs by either 20% or $100 from the amount that would be awarded today under the current child support guidelines.
Change in Terms of Custody or Visitation
The Court’s primary focus when deciding for or against a change in terms of custody or visitation is the best interest of and stability for the child. Courts have found there to be a material and substantial change in circumstances when there has been evidence of changes in the child’s home environment, age, or needs, evidence of abuse or neglect, or incarceration of a parent. A parent’s desire to relocate can also be considered a material and substantial change if it can be shown that the relocation is in the child’s best interest. As relocation’s are generally disfavored, it is important to have a zealous child custody attorney on your side who understands what Courts are looking for in order to make a decision and how to effectively present your case.
Enforcement of Court Orders
Once you have your Court order, each party is required to comply with its terms; a party may be entitled to seek enforcement against the party who is not meeting their obligations under the order. Common enforcement issues involve failure to pay child support, failure to release the child for the visitation, or failure of a party to turn over property after a divorce. If you feel that the other party is not complying with the terms of the Court order or if you have been accused of violating the order, retaining an attorney as soon as possible will put you in the best position to successfully prepare to prosecute an enforcement or defend against any alleged violation. You may also be entitled to seek child custody attorney fees in connection with prosecuting or defending against an enforcement action.
Child Custody Attorney – Let Us Help
Looking for a child custody attorney solution that makes sense and fits the needs of you and your child? Turn to our San Antonio, TX Custody and Family Law Firm for help. Speak to us at (210) 985-1230 or fill out our online contact form to book an appointment today!