Houston Custody Lawyer

Divorce is a difficult time for children. The law in Texas is cognizant of that and attempts to make the transition for them as smooth as possible. It also aims to keep their standard of living as close to that of marriage as possible. When your future relationship with your children is at stake, make sure you’re represented by an aggressive and compassionate attorney that is willing to fight in court to get you the best result. Contact our Houston custody attorney to schedule an initial consultation.

Determining Child Custody in Texas

Before we begin, it’s important to know that Texas courts don’t use traditional terms associated with child custody (custodial, non custodial, etc.). In Houston, Texas, child custody is called “conservatorship.” Custodial parents (who the child spends the majority of their time with) are called “conservators” and non custodial parents are called “possessory conservators.”

If parents can’t agree on an appropriate custody for their child, they may need to rely on the court to establish conservatorship on their behalf. In such family law cases, courts determine custody based on the best interests of the child.

In order to make this decision, they may consider the following factors:

  • The child’s wishes (for children that are 12 or older)
  • Any current or future emotional and physical danger to the child
  • The current and future emotional and physical needs of the child
  • The parenting abilities of each parent
  • The stability of the proposed home
  • The plans for the child by each parent
  • The acts or omissions of the parent which may indicate parental fitness, and any explanations for such acts or omissions
  • Any other factor that the court deems to be material to the child custody case

The Houston custody lawyer at Petrelli Previtera helps our clients navigate custody issues and family court, determining the best interests of the child and prioritizing their needs as well as yours. Don’t hesitate to reach out today for award-winning legal counsel.

Types of Child Custody Arrangements in Texas

There are two basic types of child custody in Houston, Texas:

  • Legal custody: Concerns a parent’s right to make important decisions for their children, such as where they go to school and what medical and emotional treatment they receive.
  • Physical custody: Concerns a parent’s ability to possess their child (have their child live with them)

Types of Conservatorships in Texas

The legal and physical custody each parent has depends on the type of conservatorship they maintain. They are two types of conservatorships:

  • Sole Managing Conservatorship (SMC)

In an SMC, only one parent has physical custody and sometimes legal custody of the child.

Courts often establish an SMC when one parent is considered “unfit”, typically due to engaging in actions such as:

  • Family violence
  • Child abuse/neglect
  • Alcohol and drug abuse


  • Joint Managing Conservatorship (JMC)

In a JMC, both parents have physical and legal custody. Texas presumes parents should be named joint managing conservators, unless it would impair the child’s physical or emotional health.

However, a JMC does not necessarily mean that the time is split equally between both parents. Time spent with a child is determined by the visitation orders.

Normally, conservators in this type of custody arrangement can make everyday decisions on their own, but major decisions—like ones about education or invasive medical treatment—require agreement.

Visitation and Parenting Time

In divorces where a parent earns primary physical custody, the non-primary parent is often entitled to visitation or parenting time. Visitation rights are referred to as “periods of possession” in Texas.

Under a Standard Possession Order (SPO), if the parents live less than 100 miles apart, then the non-custodial parent has possession of the children on the first, third, and fifth weekends of the month, beginning on Friday at either the time school lets out or 6:00 p.m. and ending on Sunday at 6:00 p.m. The non-custodial parent will also have child visitation every Thursday night. An SPO is an important element in a parenting plan.

When working out a parenting plan with your ex-spouse, the primary concern should be the best interests of the children. Be reasonable. Be open to concerns. In many cases, both parents love their children and want to spend time with them. Don’t treat a custody case as a contest, but rather, as a process of deciding what arrangement most benefits your children.

Choose the Experience of Petrelli Previtera

The Houston custody attorney at Petrelli Previtera provides compassionate legal counsel for those going through the difficult process of divorce. However, we are relentless in the courtroom and will never back down when fighting for your rights. Contact our award-winning child custody lawyers today for the support, guidance, and skilled representation you need to fight for the custody of your child.