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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_184715771-min.jpgA child’s needs tend to manifest differently during the summer months than they do during the school year. While a primary focus of parents during all other seasons is their child’s academic situation, the summer may allow them to prioritize different experiences. For example, a child who does not get to see one of their parents much during the academic year may benefit from spending more time with them in the summer. Whatever the summer holds, if a child’s parenting situation is governed in part by a parenting plan, it is important for parents who are bound to honor the terms of that plan before spring becomes a mere memory.

Preparing for the Months Ahead

Many parenting plans contain special provisions that apply only in the summer. If your co-parenting relationship is governed by a parenting plan, you will want to review any such terms contained in your order. By evaluating the precise language – perhaps, concerning travel, scheduling, extracurricular involvement, or virtual visitation – you will be better prepared to honor them.

Conversely, if your review of these terms highlights circumstances that are no longer in your child’s best interests, it may benefit you to speak with your co-parent about modifying the terms of your plan. If you can mutually agree on alternative language, our firm can help you to formalize the change and submit it to the court. If your co-parent is resistant to the idea of a modification, we can help you to explore the risks and benefits of asking the court to intervene.


dallas child custody lawyerIf you and your child’s other parent need to draft a parenting plan as an element of your broader child custody order, it is important that you do not rush this drafting process. Parenting agreements are legally binding contracts that are enforceable in the event of a breach. As a result, you will need to make sure that your approach is manageable, reasonable, and sustainable before you finalize your mutually-agreeable terms.

Thinking Critically from Multiple Angles 

When preparing to draft your parenting agreement, you will want to do some brainstorming. Open a Word doc or get out a notepad and start by listing all of your questions and concerns about how your arrangement will work practically. Do not censor yourself or focus on structure quite yet. Empty your brain onto paper so that later, you can return to each of these pressing thoughts in turn and make sure that your concerns and questions are adequately addressed before you finalize your agreement.

Next, make lists of the following considerations that will need to be addressed in some fashion during the drafting process:


TX child custody lawyerThe devastating reality of many family law and divorce cases is that mothers and fathers are not treated equally. This is a shocking realization for so many men who are loving fathers to their children. Even though fathers often play a pivotal role in raising their children, the court tends to view mothers as the more nurturing and essential piece of a typical parental dynamic. As a result, fathers getting divorced frequently worry that their rights will be tossed out the window as soon as divorce proceedings begin. The very rights that will decide so many important matters, including child custody, child support, and visitation.

If you are a father getting a divorce and are concerned about your rights, your concerns are indeed well-founded. However, to ensure your rights remain protected and that you are effectively advocated for during divorce proceedings, it is wise to consult with an experienced divorce attorney dedicated to protecting the rights and best interests of the father during this tumultuous time in your life.

What Legal Issues Affect Fathers' Rights?

In Texas, the law states that when it comes to issues relating to children, including which parent will obtain legal custody and visitation rights, the sex of the parent should not be a factor in any decisions. While the law may say that, things rarely play out that way. The law states that the primary consideration of any decisions should be whatever the child's best interests are. Therefore, mothers and fathers must be treated equally and judged solely on how qualified they are to provide for their child's necessities and interests.


TX familiy lawyerAs children of divorced or never-married parents get older and gain a greater understanding of their relationship with their parents and the world around them, they often develop strong opinions about which parent they want to be with all or most of the time. When the parents agree with the child’s preferences and with each other on a parenting arrangement, making a new custody order is fairly simple.

But when parents disagree with each other about child visitation, or if a child has preferences with which one or both parents disagree, a Texas family court may have to intervene and decide what arrangement would be in the child’s best interests. If you are interested in pursuing sole custody (or sole conservatorship, as it is legally known), you may want the help of an experienced family lawyer who can help you explore your and your child’s options.

When Can a Child Decide Which Parent to Live With?

A child can never independently decide which parent they want to live with until they are 18. This may seem unfair, especially if the child is mature and independent, but that is the law. However, beginning at age 12, children can have a larger say in where they live - although a judge will be the person who ultimately makes a decision about, or approves of, parenting arrangements. Children also cannot decide to refuse visitation with one parent until they are 18 because, like parents, children are legally obligated to follow existing custody orders.


TX family lawyerChild custody proceedings can be difficult for the children involved. Some will have a strong preference regarding which parent they would like to live with, while others may be reluctant to express a preference. While Texas courts may consider the preferences of children in limited ways, the state does not allow minors to make their own decisions regarding custody. The court will, however, carefully consider the child’s best interests before making any custody determination. A qualified child custody attorney can offer you more specific advice regarding your particular situation, as there are a lot of variables at play.

Why Are Children Not Allowed to Choose?

Children may not be able to make the best decisions for themselves regarding where to live and with whom. Often, a child will select the “fun” parent who is more permissive or the parent who gives them a better allowance. Children may also be easily bribed, and it is not uncommon for parents in divorce cases to do exactly this. Courts want to make sure that the child lives with the parent who it is in their best interest to live with - and this may not be the parent with who the child asks to live.

How Can a Court Consider a Child’s Opinion?

If the child is over the age of 12 years old, one or both parents can submit a request for the child to speak to the judge regarding custody matters, and the request must be granted. If the child is under 12 years old, a parent can still submit a request, but the judge may grant it only at his discretion. Neither parent will be permitted to be present for this conversation, which takes place in the privacy of the judge’s chambers.

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