When it comes right down to it, your child’s safety is the most important thing to you and your Co-parent. While the two of you may differ, sometimes significantly when it comes to your ideas about how to best parent and raise your child, one aspect of that parenting that I’m sure both of you would agree on is that if your child is safe, then everything else can fall into line in terms of raising them. Suppose your child is in an unstable or unsafe environment, then everything else is just details. Ensuring the safety of your child is job number one for a parent like you or me.
When you stop and think about it, parents’ concerns during a child custody or divorce case boiled down to issues regarding their child’s safety. While you may have particular goals for a divorce or child custody case, if you cannot ensure your child’s safety, then those goals don’t matter all that much. Problems with visitation, custody, possession or even child support can boil down to whether or not you feel like your child is safe. If you can’t receive The Child Support that you are owed and do not feel comfortable renting a home in a better part of town, your child safety may at least, in theory, be jeopardized.
It is this unease that takes over for many parents during family law cases. I’ve seen it happen time and time again. Even if you thoroughly prepare for your case and are diligent about negotiation and thinking through every issue of your case intentionally, everything boils down to your child’s safety. Unless you feel deep down that your child is safe, you will not truly be satisfied with your family law case results. Like those with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, a good family law attorney will tell you this early on and help you understand this reality.
With that said, the goal of one of our family law attorneys is to make you comfortable with your particular set of circumstances to help you achieve your goals. At the end of the day, if you can’t achieve your goals in a divorce or child custody case, you cannot keep your child’s life consistent, stable, or safe. Even more than that, if you can’t keep any goals in mind for your case and act intentionally towards achieving those goals, then why even go through with a family law case in the first place? Wandering into a family law case is entirely possible. You may not even have filed or initiated the case in the first place.
However, when you find yourself knee-deep in a family law case, you have no choice but to play ball in participate to the best of your ability. This does not necessarily mean that you need to attempt to take your Co-parent for all their worth or do anything of this nature. Rather, my advice to you would be to understand the complex nature of your case as well as possible, worked through negotiations diligently, and do what you can to settle your case with your child’s well-being at the forefront of how you negotiate. I can tell you that from experience, if you do so, then you will best ensure your ability to protect your child and see to it that their safety is maintained despite any other instabilities in your life or theirs.
Ultimately, you cannot choose every circumstance that confronts your child in life. Parents of our generation grew up with helicopter parents in mind. This would be a parent who six to hover around their child constantly and try their best to ensure that no adversity or difficulty comes their Child’s way without getting through the first period; however, parents of our generation have stepped up their game to become lawnmower parents. Lawnmower parents will run out in front of their child in an attempt to cut down any adversity, like a lawnmower, before the adversity can ever find their child. This takes helicopter parenting to a whole new level.
While I would not recommend being a helicopter or lawnmower parent, there is certainly merit to insuring, invest as much possible in your child’s safety. Your child’s safety may be a real-world consideration that you need to take very seriously, depending on your circumstances. The thing about representing people from all walks of life in our community, like the attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, is that we learn pretty quickly different types of people have different types of scenarios going on in their lives. What is impacting you and your family may not be impacting your neighbors down the street or the people across the highway from where you live. With that said, you need to be sure that the goals you have for your case correspond to you you and your child’s circumstances. More than that, you need to have goals didn’t even think about your case being a success on any level.
It would seem that a good place to start when considering your child’s safety will be thinking about the factors in your life that may harm your child either physically or mentally. Without peer into your specific circumstances, I think we can begin this conversation by discussing two subjects that have increasingly become common in divorce in child custody cases in Texas. Those circumstances would be alcoholism and drug use. I hope that neither of these issues would become relevant to your family. However, it would be naive to think that it is impossible for him there at least subject to a cross your doorstep. If we are honest with ourselves, I am willing to bet that alcoholism or drug use has impacted your family to one extent or another.
Alcohol and drug use play a large role in divorce and child custody cases. Once we accept this reality, we can begin to mitigate the impacts of these addictions on your child’s life. Again, there is no perfect solution to any problem, especially one as complex as drug and alcohol abuse. We should seek to minimize and mitigate alcohol, drug abuse, and other addictions in your child’s life. It is not every day that an outsider will have the ability to speak into your life and positively impact the life of your child. By filing a family law case, you are asking an attorney to do just that for you. This is a responsibility that our attorneys take very seriously, and we are going to talk about various methods to benefit your child even under less than ideal circumstances.
Conservatorship issues in a Texas divorce or child custody case
Ultimately, what we are talking about regarding drug abuse and alcohol in a custody situation revolves around conservatorships. The term conservatorship is one that many people are unfamiliar with at the beginning of a family law case. The reason why this is would be because more people recognize the concept surrounding conservatorships as being under the umbrella of child custody. While you may have never heard of the term conservatorship, I am confident you have heard of the term custody.
Custody is a word that does not appear in the Texas family code, but family law judges and attorneys utilize it just as much as clients and the general public. Conservatorships refer to rights and duties as a parent. The rights revolve around your ability to make decisions for your child. Their health, education, safety, and emotional well-being are all areas that are impacted when we talk about conservatorships. Likewise, you have certain duties as a parent to care for your child and provide them with an education, a safe environment, clothes, food, and basic shelter.
These are all things that each one of us would probably agree on. There isn’t much that abroad group of people could have a consensus on our country in this day and age. However, I think that this topic is 1 where we could get some consensus. Ensuring your child’s safety, making sure he and she can go to school, and protecting against various forms of emotional abuse or neglect while keeping them healthy are some of the basic tenants of parenting. We may differ in how we approach these subjects, but the end goal is the same.
While you may have understood this on an instinctual level, the Texas family code goes one step further. It spells out the specific rights and duties you have about your child in this section of your court orders under conservatorships. It would help if you familiarized yourself with the rights and duties under a joint managing conservatorship. This is the typical arrangement for parents to take on who share custody of their children after a family law case. Your case may look slightly different in one regard or another; the bottom line is that you are likely to share parenting duties and rights after your case.
No matter what your specific role will be in the life of your child after the case is done or where your child lives primarily, you need to be aware of the reality that keeping your child out of harm’s way is the most important objective or goal that you can have in your case. Likewise, if your case were to make it to a judge, they would be making the best interest determination on behalf of your child with their safety in mind. When it is all said and done, if a judge can keep your child safe, everything else is gravy. Do not lose sight of the fact that the health and well-being of your child will be viewed in this way by a family court.
In our society, drugs are not viewed the same way that they were even 20 years ago. For instance, even subjects like medical marijuana, holistic medicines that use marijuana byproducts, and general use of marijuana for pain and other medical conditions are thought of in a much different light than when we all were growing up. It does bear mentioning that each family law court in Texas may view this subject differently. Therefore, you should not assume that every judge you run into in Texas will view marijuana, for example, as benignly as you do. This should bring you some pause as far as making decisions about even recreational drug use.
What to do if your Co-parent has a problem with alcohol
This is the $10 million question that we need to ask ourselves today. While you can negotiate well during a family law case, do everything possible to protect your child in the times that you were in the position of them and generally set a good example for your Co-parent you have no choice but to place some degree of trust in your parent during the times that they have your child. As a result, when you leave it up to them to protect your child, you are leaping faith. This sleep gets a little further if your Co-parent has an addiction to drugs or alcohol.
As a responsible and conscientious parent, you need to be aware of fundamental circumstances involving your child’s well-being. If your Co-parent or spouse is an alcoholic, this is a subject that you would want to have explored by your attorney in terms of doing what is necessary within the confines of your court order to keep your child safe. This could mean limiting the conservatorship rights of your Co-parent or even initiating a protective order if your child should not be in contact with your Co-parent at this time.
For example, you could have inserted into your court orders that your Co-parent cannot decide your child’s health or schooling without consulting with your first period. Basically, this would eliminate any independent decision-making authority on these subjects for your Co-parent. If you do not trust your parent’s judgment when it comes to responsibly consuming alcohol, then it would make sense that they would not be able to make decisions for your child in these areas of their life. Next, initiating a proceeding for a protective order on behalf of your child and yourself may be necessary, as well.
At least in Harris County, protective order proceedings will go through a specific court in addition to the court that your case is filed in. It would be best to speak to your attorney about what needs to be done to compile evidence and file for a protective order. It would be best to determine whether or not a protective order is even necessary, considering the actual risks posed to your child by your co-parent. It may be that the restrictions in contact available through temporary orders will be sufficient.
Additionally, you may inquire about the possibility of having your Co-parent set up with a stairstep type visitation rather than beginning them with the sort of typical joint custody arrangement that is non-primary conservator would have. A stairstep agreement allows for your Co-parent to begin with relatively small amounts of time with your child. As they begin to display an ability to remain sober and make good decisions regarding their child’s safety,y can be stair-stepped into more and more time with them.
Whatever you decide to do, you need to do something to help your child remain as safe as possible when they are not physically with you. The idea that you can prevent your child from being with your co-parent is unrealistic. The more realistic option would be for you to consider basic safety measures through a family case and negotiate for them as strongly as possible. If your co-parent does not agree to these basic guideposts in a case, you can and should consider a divorce or child custody trial as necessary. The safety of your child may depend on it.
Questions about the material presented in today’s blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
If you have any questions about the material contained in today’s blog post, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultation six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are a great way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law and how your family may be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody case.