Last Updated on October 12, 2022 by Benson Varghese
When couples with children divorce, major decisions must be made regarding custody and the issues that come with it, including child support, possession schedules, and education decisions. As you might imagine, the same contentious issues arise in many family cases – both at the onset of the divorce and even years down the road. In this blog post, our family law attorneys discuss the top 5 custody disputes in Fort Worth.
1. Primary Parent
The most common custody disagreement we see at the beginning of the divorce process is who will be named the primary parent – that is, the one who decides where the child lives and makes most of the day-to-day decisions. In many cases, both parents want to be the primary parent, which is also referred to as the custodial parent.
When both sides disagree over who should be the primary parent, our attorneys work to help the parties reach an amicable agreement. There are various types of custody arrangements in Texas that can be tailored to fit the unique needs of each family, including specifying specific rights and duties of each parent.
For example, a mother might be named the primary parent, but the parties agree to let the father make the child’s medical decisions because he is a doctor.
Hopefully, a solid custody agreement can be accomplished through negotiations and mediation, but sometimes, the issues need to be resolved through contested hearings before a judge in family court.
2. Child Support
This probably will not come as a surprise to anyone. Child support comes in at No. 2 on our list of custody disputes in Fort Worth. In Texas, both parents are required to financially support their children, even if they don’t have custody. The non-custodial parent typically pays child support to the custodial parent.
The amount of child support is generally based on the Texas Child Support Guidelines, but it is not uncommon for one parent to seek to modify child support payment if circumstances change in the future.
For example, a parent may seek to modify the payment if they experience a job loss or a significant decrease in income. Likewise, the custodial parent may seek to modify the child support payment if their other parent appears to have had a lifestyle change due to an increase in income.
It’s important to understand that child support and custody disputes in Fort Worth can come up at any time until a child turns 18 or is emancipated, meaning child support is no longer required.
3. Education Decisions
The third child custody dispute on our list relates to education decisions. What if one parent wants their child to attend a private school, but the other disagrees? What if one parent believes a child should be held back, but the other wants the child to advance to the next grade?
As you can see, this type of disagreement can get contentious quickly. In Texas, the parent who makes decisions regarding education depends on the custody order that is in place. If the order does not specify who makes that decision – and parents cannot agree – then you will likely end up in your attorney’s office and possibly back in court.
4. Invasive Medical Procedures
Invasive medical procedures can range from anything from braces to ear tubes to tonsillectomy. These types of custody disputes are common because parents have different views on what medical procedures are necessary.
Again, the parent who makes invasive medical decisions depends on the type of custody order that is in place. If one parent is the primary, independent decision-maker, then that parent makes the call. If both parents are joint managing conservators and the order says both have to agree on invasive medical procedures, then they will need to be on the same page regarding the medical procedure in question.
In some instances, a pediatrician or another designated person can be the tie-breaker when parents disagree about medical procedures. However, if it can’t be worked out, then you will likely end up in your attorney’s office seeking to modify the order in the future.
5. Psychiatric Treatment
If you believe your child needs psychiatric treatment, then your family is undoubtedly going through a difficult time. Disputes often arise in these incidents because one parent may want their child to receive specific treatment from a certain doctor, while the other disagrees.
Again, the parent who makes decisions regarding psychiatric treatment depends on what is included in the custody order or divorce decree. If one parent is the exclusive decision-maker, then they will have the upper hand. If both parents are joint managing conservators and both have to agree on psychiatric treatment, then they must come to an agreement or the issue must be litigated.
What if there is an emergency?
If there is an emergency – meaning there is immediate danger to the health and safety of a child – either parent can consent to medical care for their child.
The Need for Solid Custody Agreements
No one can predict the future after a divorce with children. But the best way to avoid problems down the road is to work out a solid child custody agreement outlining parental rights and duties at the outset of the divorce or separation. Custody orders should spell out precisely who and how decisions will be made regarding child support, education, and medical treatment, as well as what happens if a disagreement arises.
Having said that, child custody orders often need to be modified. What seemed appropriate when your child was 5 years old at the time of divorce may not work when the child is 14. If you need to modify a child custody agreement, it’s essential to contact an experienced family law attorney.
Child Custody Disputes in Fort Worth? Contact Us.
If you find yourself in a disagreement with the other parent, our family law attorneys can help. Our team has vast experience guiding families through difficult times in their lives. We are based in downtown Fort Worth and are skilled in resolving high-conflict divorce and child custody disputes in Tarrant County. Call 817-900-3220 to schedule a consultation