The Woodlands High Conflict Custody Attorneys for Neglect
How well you navigate through your divorce and child custody challenges may largely depend on your legal support. You need to know about the legal system and how custody determination works in Texas to prepare for a divorce and support your child custody claims. This is particularly true when the other parent is neglectful of the child. Having the right lawyer on your side is imperative for your child’s best interests.
Many divorces can be settled through mediation. However, custody determination can be contentious and emotionally fraught, especially when allegations of neglect are involved. The Woodlands high conflict custody attorneys at BB Law Group PLLC understand how these battles can affect families.
Our mission is to protect our clients’ rights and guide them through strategic decision-making designed to help them gain full custody of their children. Although you and your ex-spouse may come to an amicable agreement about the divorce, it is wise to retain a qualified law firm when you’re deciding who gets custody of your children.
When you have BB Law Group PLLC on your side, you can count on our experienced team to fight to protect your rights and your children’s rights. Contact us today at (832) 534-2589 to schedule your first confidential evaluation. During your appointment, we will review your information, answer your questions, and advise you on your next best steps.
How Does Texas Determine Child Custody?
Under Texas law, legal custody is called conservatorship, and physical custody and visitation are called possession and access. Conservatorship gives a parent the right to make decisions about the child’s welfare, including what school they’ll attend, medical decisions, and the child’s religious affiliation.
Sole managing conservatorship allows one parent to make all the decisions and joint managing conservatorship requires both parents to make the decisions together.
While Texas has statutory possession and access schedules, parents can agree on a different schedule based on their needs, or the court can order a different schedule based on the child’s needs.
When deciding conservatorship, the court does not favor one parent over the other. The law presumes there should be joint managing conservatorship. It is up to the parent who wants sole managing conservatorship to prove this decision is in the best interest of the child.
This may happen if there is a history of family violence, a parent is consistently absent, or there is a history of child abuse. The Texas court may also require parents of minor children to complete mandatory parenting classes before the final divorce is granted. Texas offers these classes in person or online.
Ultimately, the court has discretion when granting conservatorship or possession and access. The judge decides based on several factors, including but not limited to:
- The best interests of the child
- The child’s wishes
- The current and future physical and emotional needs of the child
- The parent’s ability to parent
- The parent’s plan for the child
- The stability of the proposed home
- Any acts that indicate the parent may be unfit
- The ability of the parents to work together in the best interest of the child
- The extent to which both parents had participated in raising the child
- The physical distance between the residences of the parents
What Is the Legal Definition of Neglect?
Although one person may feel neglected by their spouse, when deciding if neglect has an impact on child custody, the courts use a legal definition. Federal legislation provides some guidance to the states to define abuse and neglect. At a minimum, the law defines neglect as:
“the leaving of a child in a situation where the child would be exposed to a substantial risk of physical or mental harm, without arranging for necessary care for the child, and the demonstration of an intent not to return by a parent, guardian, or managing or possessory conservator of the child.”
Additionally, it lists several acts or omissions that may fall under this definition, such as putting a child in or failing to remove a child from a situation in which the child might be exposed to the risk of sexual contact or failure to provide a child with food, clothing, or shelter necessary for life and health.
How Accusations of Neglect Can Affect Child Custody
Accusations of neglect have a significant effect on child custody placement. After allegations and accusations have been made, Child Protective Services initiates a series of hearings to determine if the allegations can be substantiated. Under Texas law, neglect must pose substantial risks to the child and may include signs such as:
- Obvious malnourishment
- Torn and dirty clothing
- Children left unattended for long periods
- Frequent absences from school
- Lack of personal cleanliness
During the first hearing, Child Protective Services petitions the court to have the child remain in their care. The parent accused of neglect can present evidence to attempt to persuade the judge that the child should be returned to them.
If the child is removed from the parent’s care, the court requires the parent to provide a plan for a permanent living arrangement before it considers returning the child to the parent. Allegations of neglect, during which Child Protective Services removes the child from care, have a significant impact on conservatorship decisions.
The court may decide to give sole managing conservatorship to the other parent or may give the other parent temporary sole managing conservatorship until the parent accused of neglect can demonstrate they have met the goals set out for them by the court.
How Do You Prove Neglect?
To prove neglect, it’s necessary to show that the child’s basic physical and/or emotional needs were not met. For example, if the other parent does not provide food or does not make sure the child goes to school, the judge may rule in your favor for child conservatorship.
This can be challenging since it can place children in the middle of a high-conflict child custody fight. To help remove children from the legal battle, you may want to try some of the following:
Video, audio, and images: Pictures and images of substandard living conditions can demonstrate your child has been neglected. Texas is a one-party consent state, which means that only one party needs to consent to tape or video a conversation.
Document issues: For example, if you are concerned your child isn’t getting enough to eat while at the other parent’s home, document the child’s weight loss. This can be done by taking your child to the pediatrician before they visit the other parent and then again when they come home.
Medical records from a physician will carry more weight in court than documenting weight changes on your scale at home. Talk to the school about school absences and take pictures of your child when they come home to document clothing that may be torn or dirty.
Witnesses: Teachers, neighbors, and your child’s friends and their parents may have observed neglect. Ask if they’re willing to testify.
The more concrete evidence that can be gathered, the easier it is to prove neglect.
Get Help from an Experienced High Conflict Child Custody Attorney
Child conservatorship has high stakes. The Woodlands high conflict custody attorneys of BB Law Group PLLC understand the challenges of protecting the best interests of your family. To work with an experienced Woodlands high conflict custody attorney, call our offices today at (832) 534-2589 to schedule your consultation.