In Texas, a child custody case is called a Suit Affecting Parent Child Relationship or SAPCR. The Texas Family Code allows a parent of a child to file for custody in a family law court. The SAPCR is no different than any lawsuit. Only parties with standing may file the suit, which is a fancy way to say that usually only a parent may file for custody of child. There are a few other scenarios such as grandparents rights under certain situations or when any person has possession of a child for six months or more, then a person other than a parent may file for custody of a child.
Usually, when a custody suit is filed, there is a temporary restraining order prohibiting parents from removing the child from the jurisdiction of the court or hiding or secreting the child. In a child custody suit, the court determines each decision it makes regarding the child by the best interests of the child standard.
The Court first determines if it will order Joint Managing Conservatorship or Sole Managing Conservatorship. Joint Managing Conservatorship is more common and presumed to be in the best interest of the child. The rights and duties of the parents are established based on the type of conservatorship that is ordered. The most sought after right is the right to establish the primary residence of the child. Most child custody cases hinge on that one important right. The next most important aspect of a child custody case is the possession and access schedule. Courts can order the traditional Standard Possession Order (a future blog will cover these issues) or can order a Customized Possession Order. No matter what the order is, the Court must determine the possession order is in the best interest of the child.
Another heavily litigated issue in a child custody case is the amount of child support and health insurance one party pays another. The typical amount of child support is based on a chart found in the Texas Family Code. For one child, the courts order an obligor to pay 20% of a person’s net resources.
There are so many issues in a child custody case that this blog will evaluate the issues separately. Every child custody case is different so the issues and fight is different in every child custody case. It is important to always fight for what is in the best interest of the child.