6 Ways to Win Custody in Texas

  1. Be an effective co-parent. It’s simple – Courts like parties that co-parent. They appreciate parents that love their children more than they hate each other. So, be reasonable with your child’s other parent. Of course, this can be difficult. You didn’t get to where you are now without hurt or angry feelings and emotions. I think many of you would be surprised to find that a lot of individuals can’t do this; the issues are too new and raw. It’s too late to do anything once you enter the courtroom; so, make sure you exercise common courtesy at exchanges. Don’t send the child to provide information to the other parent. Don’t send the child with your child support check. If it is too much, too fast to do the above, don’t say or do anything. Ignore, ignore ignore.
  2. Stay off of Social Media. I’m sure you’ve heard this before – Facebook is not your friend. This evidence almost always gets presented to the judge. Telling someone about your night on the town, using drugs and/or alcohol may not be your finest hour as a parent. It’s best to stay off of social media until the case is concluded.
  3. Follow court orders. This is simple. If the court orders you to exchange the child at a certain time and certain place, be there to do so. If you are supposed to provide educational or medical information to the other parent, do so. Courts expect their orders to be followed. If there is one extenuating circumstance where you can’t do this – the court may excuse you, but recurring problems will be an issue for the court and, ultimately, you in your custody case.
  4. Always communicate in writing with the knowledge that someone else will likely be reading it. Remember that the judge that will be deciding your custody case will likely read what you have sent to your child’s other parent. When you are responding to an email that makes you angry, don’t respond right away. Sleep on it and read it again in the morning. Perhaps have someone else read it before you send it. Angry texting can get you in trouble here – so, make sure you keep it in check. Courts like parents that co-parent – be reasonable, exercise sound judgment and think about what is best for your child. Many Courts are using communication tools now. For example, Our Family Wizard is a program that many are using to facilitate communication between the parents. This is a program that has a nominal annual cost and most parents are ordered to pay for their own. This program has alerts that go to your phone, allows parents to see when the other parent has checked it and provides an opportunity to download any documents related to the child. It will likely be presented to the judge. It shows dates and times that both parties check their communications. This is important when the issue is timely – i.e., changes to the visitation schedule, doctors appointments, or notification of your intent to exercise summer vacation with dates and times.
  5. Actively participate in your child’s day-to-day activities. Know your child’s teachers doctors, interests and yes, what book they are currently reading. This seems simple, but you would be surprised how many parents get on the witness stand and can’t tell the judge the names of their child’s teachers or doctors. Reach out to them. Know what subjects your child is struggling in. Get to know their teachers. Actively participate in their projects and extra-curricular activities. If your child is in ballet or soccer, get to know the coach and teachers. Know who their doctors are. When was the last time your child went to the doctor and for what. Be prepared to tell your attorney what it is like in your household when you have your child. What the daily activities are, etc.
  6. Make time to participate in court-ordered expert interventions. At some point, the court may appoint an expert to assist the court or the parties during the pendency of your custody case. These experts may include a Custody Evaluator, Parenting Facilitator, psychological evaluator or Guardian/Amicus Attorney. Make sure that you provide these experts with all of the necessary information and your time. Many parents like to provide a binder of information to give to them. This might include your child’s school records, doctors appointments, communications between the parents and any other documentation regarding a pending issue. Always remember that the court will listen to these folks above all other witnesses. You need to get to know them and provide them with as much information on your case as you can.

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