Child Custody and Visitation
Child custody and visitation must be handled by an experienced, even-tempered attorney, who has a command of the relevant law, as well as is accustomed to aggressively pursuing his client's custody and visitation rights in court. James M. Warner is knowledgeable of and has a background managing cases, where custody and visitation are, unfortunately, contested. As always, Mr. Warner advises his clients to seek an agreement on custody, before litigation ensues; however, Mr. Warner will seek to protect the relationship between parent and child, even if that requires contested hearings, mediation and a trial. Mr. Warner handles all child custody matters, including the following:
- Child visitation and child support;
- Modification of existing child custody, visitation and child support orders;
- Changing needs of a child, including medical and educational changes;
- Grandparent visitation and custody rights; and
- Enforcement of existing custody, visitation and child support orders and
- Child custody, visitation and child support within military families.
Should the court determine custody, it will decide what is in the best interest of the children. Ordinarily, the court will appoint both parents as joint managing conservators, because that arrangement is presumed to be in the child's best interest. When ordering a joint managing conservatorship, the court will designate one of the parents the joint managing conservator, who is vested with, amongst other things, the right to determine the child's primary residence. Again, when the parties agree to a joint managing conservatorship, the time and expense of litigation is reduced. The courts will confirm the joint managing conservatorship, unless credible evidence of domestic violence is presented. Namely, the court will not approve joint managing conservatorship, where there is evidence demonstrating that a parent has a history of child neglect, and/or physical or sexual abuse of the other parent, spouse or a child.
When a joint managing conservatorship is either prohibited, due to domestic violence, or it is not in the best interest of the child based on other reasons, then Mr. Warner will pursue an alternative custody and visitation arrangement serving the needs of the parent and child. Mr. Warner has the background litigating custody and visitation matters, where the appointment of his client as sole managing conservatorship is in the best interest of the child. In those cases, Mr. Warner will submit evidence to the court attempting to rebut or refute the joint managing conservatorship presumption. Often, this evidence may include showing that the parties are unable to cooperate, live a significant distance from each other or there is not a positive relationship between parent and child. Mr. Warner never guarantees results, and will not bring a spurious or unsupportable claim before the court. Mr. Warner never wants the credibility of his clients damaged by a poorly conceived litigation strategy, and Mr. Warner does not want his clients to develop unrealistic goals for litigation. Having said this, Mr. Warner will not hesitate to seek a custody and visitation arrangement that favors his client, and/or rebuts the presumption of joint managing conservatorship, should the facts and evidence support that position.
Mr. Warner will seek custody and visitation rights for non-parents, including grandparents, because the courts recognize the importance and, sometimes, critical nature of non-traditional familial relationships to the best interest of the child. Under Texas law, it is presumed that the best interest of the child is served by appointing the parent as sole managing conservator, or both parents as joint managing conservators. However, Mr. Warner recognizes that some nonparents are a child's primary caregiver, especially if the parent is neglecting or otherwise harming the child. Under these circumstances, Mr. Warner will represent the nonparent, and attempt to overcome the "parental presumption", by showing that the parent voluntarily relinquished the child to the nonparent or an authorized agency, the appointment of the parent would significantly impair the child or the parent has a history of domestic violence. Again, Mr. Warner will not guarantee results, but is willing to pursue a client's desires, so long as the client's desires and goals for custody comply with Texas law and he or she is seeking the best interest of the child.