Child custody and support are two of the major issues that can be determined in a Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship (SAPCR). Several factors determine whether a parent’s or guardian may file a child custody or support case in Texas, including if the child resides in the state or the child has resided in the state for six months before the case. Texas courts may grant sole or joint conservatorship to parents or guardians with one parent given the duty to pay child support to the other based on their earning power. Child custody orders also determine which parent is the ‘managing’ conservator of the child and which parent only gets possession. Texas has two statutory possession and access schedules, the standard possession order and extended standard order that dictate the dates and times that each parent spends with the child. Parties may also agree to a modified possession order.
The court considers various factors in determining custody of a child, such factors include the best interest of the child, a history of domestic violence, criminal history, or the child’s testimony if they are over the age of 12. Child custody orders also determine which parent has the right to designate the residence of the child, the right to inquire and participate in the child’s health, school activities, travel restrictions, amongst several rights.
SAPCR’s amongst unmarried parents also involves the determination of paternity, as a father fighting for custody or a mother fighting for child support from the father must first establish the true father of the child true a petition to the court for a paternity test.
A duty to pay child support is imposed on a parent that does not live with the child, the parent is known as the ‘Non-custodial Parent’. The amount of child support to be paid usually depends on the number of children involved in the suit and the total earning power of the Non-custodial parent.
It is very important to have employed the services of an experienced attorney to navigate the complexities in a SAPCR. SAPCR’s involve many temporary orders, emergency orders, and discoveries which are all used to endure that the best interests of the parties and the children are reached. The Law Office of Ify Ononogbu has handled many SAPCR’s and is well versed in the rights and options available for child custody and child support.