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Do You Have A Child Custody Case?
Mom does not necessarily win simply because she's Mom.
by Earl Jackson
Board Certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.
Family Law
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image The Child Custody case can and is one of the most contentious forms of family law litigation.  Although traditionally speaking Mom was always the primary care giver, this is not necessarily true in every case.  We have represented a number of client's who sought the primary designation for various reasons.  Usually, because the father actually is the primary care giver or the mother has a number of "issues" that makes her unfit to be the primary.  Note: the law does not look to whether the mother is "unfit" to take away the primary designation, the mother does not win simply because she is mother.  The law does not take into consideration the sex of the party in a child custody determination.

An example,  in one case the Dad was a top sales agent for one of the top Fortune 500 cases.  Although most employees with his company had a great deal of travel to do through the employment, he had made an arrangement such that he was always available to care for his son. He simply did not have to travel to the extent the other employees did.  He was home each and every day to care for his son, to prepare dinner, to read to his son, play with him and get him ready for bed and school the next day.  Mom, on the other hand, worked 24/7 for a local company.  She was very career minded and was never home.  When she was home, she was "too tired" to meet the needs of her child. In this relationship, the father had taken on the role of primary care giver and won custody.  The Mother eventually moved to Florida, fell on financial hard times and never really saw her son thereafter.

So do you have a custody case?  Examine the following factors and answer "mostly."

Who get's the child up in the morning?
Who gets the child ready for school?
Who makes sure the child has a lunch or lunch money?
Who takes the child to school?
Who interacts with the child's teachers?
Who goes to the parent/teacher conferences?
Who tracks school events on his or her calendar?
Who picks the child up after school?
Who makes sure the child is in an after school care program?
Who makes sure the child is doing his or her homework?
Who helps the child with his or her homework?
Who prepares the child's dinner at the end of the day?
Who eats dinner with the child?
Who watches TV or picks movies to watch with the child?
Do you watch TV and/or movies with the child?
Who makes sure the child get's ready for bed?
Who makes sure the child is brushing his or her teeth properly?
Who makes sure the child is bathed?
Who makes sure the child has clean clothes for school?
Who plays games with the child or builds models with the child?
Who makes sure the child's bedroom is picked up and clean?
Does the child have chores?  If so, who makes sure that the child does them?
Who makes sure the child does his or her school projects?
Who helps the child with the projects?
Who makes the doctor's appointments?
Who makes the dentist appointments?
Who makes sure the child is properly vaccinated in accordance with Texas Law?
Who makes sure the child has friends and playmates?
Who takes the child to assorted extracurricular activities such as the zoo, Six Flags, a baseball game?
Who makes sure the child is involved with sports?
Who enrolls the child on the sporting teams via select teams or the YMCA?
Who attends the games?
Who practices with the child?
Who makes sure the child goes to practice?
Who buys the equipment for the activity for the child?
How many witnesses can attest to the above facts on behalf of you?
How deep is the witness's knowledge with regards to the above?
What are the work hours for the parent seeking custody?
Will the parent be free to leave work to care for the child?
What kind of support system is available for the child through family and friends?
What kind of support system is available to you in taking care of the child?
Are any negative issues involved with regards to any party?  For example, is there a history of alcohol abuse, or drug use?
If a court order setting out possession and access, has each party fully complied with the order? Has one party only periodically exercised possession and access?
If a parent has taken possession of a child, is the child regularly left with another such as a grandparent, or brother, or friend?
Is there any history of family violence or the threat of family violence?
Has the party who was given the primary designation voluntarily released the chld to the other party?

These factors and others are all factual issues that will be taken into consideration by the Court in determining the best interest of the child and the award of the primary designation?  It is not necessary that you answered each one in a manner to the exclusion of the other parent.  What does matter is that the majority are answered, "yes, I do this mostly."  For example, you may go to all the parent teacher conferences, but the mother may have gone to some.  What is important here is that you went to all of them (or most of them), you know the teachers by their name and what they teach.  You know how well your child is doing in their class. You know what projects are coming up and what homework is due.  Sure, Mom went to some of the parent teacher conferences but I went almost every time.  In addition,  if my child had an issue in school it was I who addressed the issue.

Evidence, whether by witnesses, documents or your testimony, will help the court determine who the primary care taker is.

The Jackson Law Group
Dallas Divorce Child Custoddy Lawyers
Practicing in Dallas, Collin, Denton, Tarrant, Kaufman Counties
214-369-7100


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