San Antonio Child Custody Lawyers
Child custody and support cases are rarely simple, and they 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 a variety of other situations can give rise to child custody hearings. These are never easy, regardless of the different reasons for a custody hearing. Such cases are particularly important as they deal with the future of a child, and all parties involved should seek to find a custody solution that is in the best interest of a child, both short- and long-term. This becomes difficult, however, when multiple parties each believe they can provide the best environment for the child, and in such cases, legal action is necessary to ensure the child is placed 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. Our firm was built on the principles of 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 resolution of the case. It is important to us that our clients not only receive their desired results but also that they get 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, making sure to provide both informative and compassionate care of 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. Our promise to you is 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 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 whole situation and come up with the best strategy moving forward, to get the desired results for you and your children. You will need to consider that you are making decisions that affect your children, and you know that 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 who has many years of experience and has a track record of success in dealing with spouses and the courts? Child custody cases can be challenging, and having an attorney with you through the whole process can be extremely valuable. The best interests of the child are potentially at risk without proper legal representation.
Why Choose Us?
The fact is that choosing the right 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 that 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 take pride in our commitment to providing our clients with the best representation possible. We understand that child custody issues are especially challenging emotionally and financially. Our promise to you is that 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 Cases We Handle
Since child custody cases involve different types of custody, each with their 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. As 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: This refers to both 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 custody, both physical and legal, 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 come up with the arrangement on their own and turn it into a ‘parenting plan.’ If no parenting plan is filed with the court, a judge can decide custody issues. If a history of domestic violence or one parent has otherwise demonstrated an inability to act in the child’s best interests, the court can grant ‘sole managing conservatorship,’ where only one parent will make decisions regarding 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 that has 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 primary residence. The other parent then visits the child according to a visitation schedule.
In custody decisions, courts consider several factors, including:
- the parents’ 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
Also, 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 that the court considers to apply to the case.
Child Custody and Support
Child custody and support can encompass a wide variety of 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 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 of a specific area. If parents want to move out of state with their children, they will need to 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 a job relocation, or a move to be closer to extended family members who will help support and care for the child. If the court believes that you are moving to interfere with the child’s relationship with the other parent, you will not be allowed to go.
Texas law sets forth general guidelines for calculating child support. Child support is money that a parent pays to help with costs for raising the child, and these may include the cost of food, housing, clothing, supplies for school, and daycare. A parent can be ordered to pay child support by a judge when deemed 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 with the child, they may be ordered 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 both parents will be ‘joint-managing conservators,’ meaning that they will share parental rights and duties. In most cases, the court grants these rights and duties to both parents, if in the best interests of the child. On the other hand, termination of 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 termination of rights involuntarily in some instances.
It is understood that grandparents play an important role in their grandchildren’s life, and can develop strong bonds that last for life. In Texas, a court can authorize grandparents’ visitation if it is deemed in the child’s best interest and one of the following circumstances exists – the parents divorced; the parent has been incarcerated, found incompetent or died; the parent abused or neglected the child; the child has lived with the grandparent for at least six months; a court-order terminated the parent-child relationship.
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.
If your grandchild lives with you full-time, you may wish to seek custody. As a custodial parent, you can apply for child support. Both parents have a legal obligation to provide financial and medical support for their children. If you have custody, they will be required to pay that support to you. Even if you believe your specific case is not covered by what has been listed above, please do not hesitate to call us anyway with any and all questions you may have. We are here for you and sincerely want to assist you in this challenging time for you and your children.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can a child support order be changed?
Only the court can change or modify the child support order, and it can’t be done by agreement of the parties involved. 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 noncustodial parent lives in another state?
The law requires that states cooperate with each other. The noncustodial parent is legally required to make regular child support payments, no matter where he or she lives.
What if the noncustodial parent gets behind in child support payments or refuses to pay?
If a noncustodial parent does not pay child support, he or she is subject to enforcement measures to collect regular and past-due payments. The Child Support Division uses many techniques to enforce child support orders, including requiring employers to deduct court-ordered child support from the noncustodial parents’ paycheck through wage withholding, intercepting federal income tax check refunds, filing liens against his or her property or assets, suspending driver’s or other licenses, or filing a lawsuit against the noncustodial parent. A judge may also sentence a nonpaying parent to jail and enter a judgment for past due child support.
Important Child Custody Statistics
According to a 2013 report completed by Census.gov, there are some interesting facts regarding child custody in the United States:
- An estimated 13.4 million parents lived with 22.1 million children under 21 years of age while the other parent(s) lived somewhere else.
- One of every six custodial parents (17.5 percent) were fathers. The custodial parent is the parent with whom the children lived at the time of the survey interview when their other parent lived outside the household.
- More than one-quarter (26.6 percent) of all children under 21 years of age lived in families with only one of their parents while the other parent lived elsewhere.
- Most custodial parents had one child (54.7 percent).
- The proportion of custodial mothers with income below poverty (31.2 percent) was higher than that of custodial fathers (17.4 percent).
- Child support income accounted for over two-thirds (70.3 percent) of the mean annual personal income for custodial parents below poverty who received full child support.
- About half (48.7 percent) of all custodial parents had either legal or informal child support agreements, and custodial mothers were more likely to have arrangements (52.3 percent) than custodial fathers (31.4 percent).
- About three-quarters (74.1 percent) of custodial parents who were due child support in 2013 received either full or partial payments, and less than half (45.6 percent) received full payments.
It all begins with our initial consultation with you. Our objective is to help you remain in your child’s life and to 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 ensure that your case is treated 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 complete an online form or chat live online for your initial questions. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us and let us help you when you need it most.