Child custody and support cases are rarely simple. They also involve some significant people in your life – your children. These types of child custody and support cases can arise for many reasons and situations.
Separations, divorce, parental deaths, parental incompetence, and various other circumstances can give rise to child custody hearings. These are never easy, regardless of the reasons for a custody hearing. Such cases are particularly important as they deal with a child’s future, and all parties involved should seek to find a custody solution that is in the child’s best interests, both short- and long-term.
This becomes difficult, however, when multiple parties believe they can provide the best environment for the child. In such cases, legal action is necessary to ensure the child is with the parent or guardian that will provide the best care.
Our award-winning San Antonio child custody attorneys are here to fight for you. We’ve built our firm on hard work, attention to detail, and outstanding client service. We are board certified by the Board of Legal Specialization in Family Law and listed in Super Lawyers and Best Law Firms. As your attorneys, we will commit our resources and knowledge to assist you best.
We will stand with you and fight tirelessly on your behalf until the resolution of the case. Our clients must receive their desired results and the personalized assistance and compassion they deserve while going through such a difficult time in their lives.
Given the gravity of such a decision, it is imperative to have an experienced and dedicated team to guide you through the often frightening experience of undergoing a custody battle. Here at Higdon, Hardy & Zuflacht, L.L.P., our committed team of San Antonio child custody lawyers is ready to fight for you in the most effective way possible, providing informative and compassionate care for you and your family in your most trying time.
We will devise a strong legal strategy for your case while protecting the interests of all concerned – including the children. We promise to you that we will do everything in our power to help make your life easier during this extraordinarily difficult time.
Do I Need An Attorney?
In such cases as child custody, many differences and complications can arise unexpectedly as you are dealing with your former spouse to make important life decisions about the welfare of your children. You may have several questions. What if my spouse doesn’t agree to the terms of our custody? Do I need to have a hearing about child custody? Can I get sole custody of my child under certain circumstances? Do I need an attorney?
It is crucial to seek an experienced and knowledgeable attorney who can evaluate your situation and develop the best strategy to get the desired results for you and your children. You must consider that you are making decisions that affect your children, and you know these are not to be taken lightly. Your children’s future is in the hands of the courts if both spouses cannot agree on the terms of custody. Do you want to leave such decisions to the courts, or would you prefer to seek a child custody attorney with many years of experience and a track record of success in dealing with spouses and the courts?
Child custody cases can be challenging, and having an attorney with you can be extremely valuable. The child’s best interests are potentially at risk without proper legal representation.
Child Custody Cases We Handle
Since child custody cases involve different types of custody, each with unique requirements, you can count on the firm of Higdon, Hardy & Zuflacht, L.L.P. to sort out the details and put your best foot forward in your custody battle.
Child custody is an umbrella term that encompasses many different types of custody. Although there are common factors that judges routinely consider in custody determinations, each case is unique and may involve one or more of these forms of custody. Understanding which arrangement may be best for you and your family is essential.
Child Custody Cases We Handle
Since child custody cases involve different types of custody, each with its requirements, you can count on the firm of Higdon, Hardy & Zuflacht, L.L.P. to sort out the details and put your best foot forward in your custody battle. Child custody is an umbrella term that encompasses many different types of custody. Although common factors are routinely considered by a judge in a custody determination, each case is unique and may involve one or more of these forms of custody; it is essential to understand which arrangement may be best for you and your family.
- Physical Custody: This refers to where the child will spend his or her time.
- Legal Custody: This refers to who can make decisions about the child, for health or education concerns, for example.
- Joint Custody refers to parents or guardians sharing time with the child. It may be an equal split, or one may only see the child on weekends, for example.
- Sole Custody: This refers to physical and legal custody that is awarded to only one parent/guardian.
- Split Custody: This is a more uncommon type of custody which refers to situations where siblings may be split between two parents.
Custody decisions are not always final and may be appealed for some reasons, mainly if the person granted custody later proves unfit or drastic changes occur in the child or parent’s life.
Courts may award divorcing parents’ joint managing conservatorship’ (sometimes known as ‘joint legal custody’ in some states) over the child. The parents share the right to make important decisions about their child’s life, including where the child will live. The divorcing parents can create the arrangement independently and turn it into a ‘parenting plan.’ If no parenting plan is filed with the court, a judge can decide on custody issues.
Suppose a history of domestic violence or one parent has demonstrated an inability to act in the child’s best interests. In that case, the court can grant ‘sole managing conservatorship,’ where only one parent will decide the child’s welfare.
Also, when the court makes an order awarding joint managing conservatorship, the court must designate one parent as the ‘primary parent’ (the parent with the exclusive right to determine the child’s primary residence). The court must also establish a geographic area where the primary parent can maintain the child’s residence. The other parent then visits the child according to a visitation schedule.
In custody decisions, courts consider several factors, including:
- The parent’s ability to make the child’s welfare their priority and reach shared decisions that are best for the child
- Whether the child’s physical, emotional, and psychological needs and development will benefit from a proposed arrangement
- Whether both parents participated in the child-rearing before the custody action or divorce
- Whether each parent can encourage a positive relationship between the child and the other parent
The courts may also consider the geographical proximity of the parents’ residences, the child’s preference (if the child is at least 12 years old), and any other factor the court considers to apply to the case.
Why Choose Us?
The fact is that choosing the right divorce lawyer may determine the outcome of your case. Are you willing to leave it in the hands of anyone that may not be entirely committed to you and your children’s best interests? At Higdon, Hardy & Zuflacht, L.L.P., we have the proven experience, track record, and client satisfaction you need, and we are committed to fighting on behalf of our clients in the San Antonio area and throughout South Texas.
Our team of attorneys has an impressive record of success handling complex child custody cases. At the law firm of Higdon, Hardy & Zuflacht, L.L.P., we are committed to providing our clients with the best representation possible. We understand that child custody issues are especially challenging emotionally and financially.
We promise we will do everything possible to fight for your interests in your child custody case while seeking the best interest of your children. At Higdon, Hardy & Zuflacht, L.L.P., we will commit our resources, knowledge, and time to you so that you will get the professional and honest legal representation that you deserve at this critical time in your life.
Child Custody and Support
Child custody and support can encompass various other legal matters, which may seem complicated and overwhelming for parents and other guardians fighting for their children. Our experienced San Antonio child custody and support attorneys are prepared for these issues and can help with the following:
The relocation addresses custody issues in Texas and whether or not parents can move their children out of the state after a divorce. Most of the time, the judge’s initial custody orders prohibit the primary parent from moving outside a specific area. If parents want to move out of state with their children, they must get a court order allowing them to do so. The parents cannot decide to move and leave the state without involving the courts.
If the other parent wants to try to stop you from moving, he or she can apply for a temporary restraining order which prevents you from moving until a court can hold a relocation hearing. At the hearing, you’ll have to show good reasons for the proposed move, such as relocating for a job or moving closer to extended family members who will help support and care for the child. If the court believes you are moving to interfere with the child’s relationship with the other parent, you will not be allowed to go.
Child Support and Unpaid Child Support
Texas law sets forth general guidelines for calculating child support. Child support is money that a parent pays to help with the costs of raising the child. These may include the cost of food, housing, clothing, supplies for school, and daycare. A court can order a parent to pay child support when necessary. Even without a court order, both parents are expected to support the child financially.
If a parent doesn’t live with the child or doesn’t assist financially, they may have to pay retroactive child support to the person who primarily cares for the child. The person who receives child support is called the “custodial parent.” The parent who doesn’t have primary custody of the child and is expected to pay child support is called the” non-custodial” parent.
In Texas, the law presumes that parents will be ‘joint-managing conservators,’ meaning they will share parental rights and duties. In most cases, the court grants these rights and duties to both parents if in the child’s best interests. On the other hand, terminating parental rights in Texas is a serious issue; the parent and child no longer have a legal relationship.
Termination of parental rights can involve one or both parents. When this process is voluntary, it is referred to as ‘relinquishment,’ although a court can order a termination of rights involuntarily in some instances.
Grandparents’ rights apply to the custody of a grandchild and visitation privileges. Grandparents can also file suit requesting custody if they believe it is in the child’s best interest. Visitation statutes do not give a grandparent an absolute right to visitation. Also, a grandparent cannot request visitation if the grandchild has been adopted by someone other than the child’s step-parent.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can a child support order be changed?
Only the court can change or modify the child support order, which can’t happen by agreement of the involved parties alone. A parent subject to a child support order may request a review of the ordered child support amounts every three years by contacting the Office of the Attorney General.
What if the child’s non-custodial parent moved out of the state?
If the ex-spouses no longer live in the same state, the law demands that the two parents attempt to cooperate and work together. The non-custodial parent still needs to make the required child support payments as ordered by the court, no matter where the parents and children are.
Important Child Custody Statistics
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that 1.4 in every 1,000 Texans were divorced in 2021. This is among the lowest divorce rates in the country, but it still equates to tens of thousands of divorcing families. Many of those families include children who require custodial care and financial support from their parents.
Here are some interesting facts regarding child custody and support payments in the United States from a 2020 report by the U.S. Census Bureau:
- As of April 2018, an estimated 12.9 million U.S. parents lived with 21.9 million children under 21 while those children’s other parents lived elsewhere.
- One of every five custodial parents (20.1 percent) were fathers. The custodial parent is the parent with whom the children lived during the survey interview when their other parent lived outside the household.
- More than one-quarter (26.5 percent) of all children under 21 lived in families with only one of their parents while their other parent lived elsewhere.
- Most custodial parents had one child (55.1 percent).
- The proportion of custodial mothers with income below poverty (27.3 percent) was higher than that of custodial fathers (11.2 percent).
- Child support income accounted for over half (57.1 percent) of the mean annual personal income for custodial parents below the poverty line who received full child support.
- About half (49.4 percent) of all custodial parents had legal or informal child support agreements. Custodial mothers were more likely to have arrangements (51.4 percent) than custodial fathers (41.4 percent).
- About seven in ten (69.8 percent) of custodial parents who were due child support in 2017 received either full or partial payments. Less than half (45.9 percent) received full payments.
It all begins with our initial consultation with you. We aim to help you remain in your child’s life and protect their best interests. Fighting for custody of a child or fighting to receive child support is something no one should have to do alone. Child custody and support cases are complex and emotionally charged, and having a team of experienced San Antonio custody lawyers on your side will treat your case with the care, attention, and legal experience it deserves.
For more information and to set up an appointment with one of our attorneys today, contact us at (210) 349-9933. You may wish to complete an online form or chat live online for your initial questions. Don’t hesitate to contact us, and let us help you when you need it most.