How Long Do Child Custody Cases Usually Last?

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While your divorce can be settled in a matter of weeks or months, settling child custody arrangements can often take much longer. Although there is no set formula for how long a child custody battle will last, a child custody attorney can give you a better timeline when they review the details of your case. Many factors may determine the length of your child custody battle, such as whether or not the parents agree on who should be the primary custodian of the child.


Ask a Child Custody Attorney: How Long Do Child Custody Cases Usually Last?

Some child custody cases can be settled in under six months, while others may take a year or more to reach a final decision from the family court judge. Child custody cases that are settled more quickly are typically done through mediation because there is mutual cooperation between the parents. Child custody battles that take longer than six months are generally contentious because the parents do not agree with the proposed conservatorship.


What Are the Steps to Determine Child Conservatorship?

In Texas, the family court will preside over your case to ensure the best interest of the child is met. In general, the best interest of the child will consider the mental, physical, and emotional development of the child. Most judges will favor the parent who has the time and resources to take care of the child.


Understand Types of Conservatorship

The first step to determining child custody is understanding the types of conservatorship that are available in Texas. Sole conservatorship and joint conservatorship each have their advantages and disadvantages. For example, with joint conservatorship, parents will have to continually collaborate on decisions about the child, including health care, recreational activities, education, and more.


On the other hand, sole conservatorship awards one parent primary custody of the child, while the other parent will have possessory conservatorship during visitation. Sole conservatorship is more favorable to the parent with primary custody, as this means the primary custodian will be able to make virtually all decisions about the health and well-being of the child.


File a Parent-Child Relationship Suit

A Houston child custody lawyer will help you decide on the best legal strategy for your child custody goals. Next, your lawyer will need to file a suit for defining the parent-child relationship, which will include delineating which parent is the sole custodian of the child.


When this suit is filed with the family court, other people will need to be notified of the custody action. For example, in addition to the other parent, Texas also requires the attorney general’s office to be notified if the child has ever received state benefits such as Medicaid or food stamps.


Mediation for Child Custody

Ideally, child custody arrangements should be made through mediation. Not only is mediation less stressful for the child, but it also fosters a good relationship between the parents. If you are aiming for joint conservation, mediation can be ideal since this will allow parents to make joint decisions about the child that can be enforced by the court. However, if a child custody arrangement cannot be settled through mediation, your suit will go to trial.


Trial for Child Custody

Trials for child custody arrangements are usually a drawn-out process, in part because the court docket may be full and in part because there may be several hearings associated with the process. During a trial for child custody, your lawyer will need to support your bid for custodianship with documented evidence that will prove you are the parent that can best take care of the child.


Final Orders for Child Custody

When a judge decides about child custody arrangements, the file final orders will be filed with the court. These final orders may include a visitation schedule or other parenting arrangements that can be enforced by the court. If either parent violates these arrangements, child custody may need to be modified.


Can the Child Pick Which Parent to Live With?

No, the child cannot choose the parent they want to live with. Even for children over the age of 12, the child’s wishes are usually not a significant factor when determining child custody arrangements. The court will always rule in favor of the best interests of the child, even if this means that one parent is granted limited visitation.


Can Child Custody be Modified?

Yes, child custody arrangements can be modified. One year after the final orders are filed with the family court, either parent can file a motion to modify child custody arrangements. For example, if the primary custodian needs to move out of state, a modification to the child custody arrangements will need to be filed.


Settling a child custody battle can take several weeks, months, or even years. A child custody attorney is an essential resource to navigate the complicated steps involved in determining child custody arrangements.