How do I know if I should file for custody?


Deciding to file a for custody is a hugely personal decision that should not be taken lightly.  Oftentimes it is a decision that is made over time, after many difficult experiences with the other parent.  There are many factors that come into play, what is in the best interest of my child, my family, and myself?  Am I prepared for a custody battle that may involve court time?  For older children, is this what my child wants, and if it is what my child wants, is this really the best choice for them?  Are there alternatives, or other solutions aside from engaging in a custody dispute?  One thing to seriously consider is timing.  If you bring a change of custody case in the middle of the school year, as opposed to during a long break or the summer, you may be creating an unneeded hurdle.  A judge may be more hesitant to change up the child's life right in the middle of the school year.  Still, if there are circumstances that call for an emergency or an immediate change, it may be something worth doing.  When it comes to a custody decision, it is a very personal, fact-intensive, fact-specific, decision.  It is best to consult with an attorney you feel comfortable with to weigh all of your options, and be a sounding-board for your concerns.  An attorney can best advise you of your options, alternatives, and likelihood of success.

Can I change custody right now, or in an emergency?

In any decision regarding your child, it is always important to consider how soon the change of custody needs to happen.  There are two types of custody cases; those that are so serious they require an immediate emergency change of custody, and those that can probably wait.  In either case, changing where the child lives is always taken seriously, however; if there is an immediate danger to your child, where they are in an unsafe, painful, or dangerous environment, it is best to consult with an attorney.  In extreme or severe cases, where child abuse is suspected, contacting the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (CPS or Child Protective Services), is required.  Attorneys, school teachers, doctors, and other professionals are legally required to report child abuse and elder abuse.  Each case is different.  There are many fact-patterns that would require an immediate or emergency change of custody, where a private attorney could help you obtain an immediate ex parte order from a judge preventing the other party from having visitation with the child, or even removing the child from their possession.  Factors like drug or alcohol abuse in the presence of the child, sexual abuse, physical abuse, or severe cases of neglect, can cause a judge to issue an immediate order, without prior notice to the actor.  If you are uncertain whether your case qualifies for an emergency change of custody, contact a family law attorney who can point you in the right direction and address your concerns.