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Johnna Teal and Associates

Johnna Teal & Associates

Texas Family Law Firm




Child Custody and Visitation


Giving You Options in Child Custody and Support


When children are involved in the process of divorce, the issues of child custody, child support and visitation can become difficult if there are disagreements. The Law Office of Johnna Teal believes that the best interests of the children involved are a primary concern. At my practice, I recommend that parties settle their differences outside of a courtroom. Custody trials are expensive and divisive, and usually end up hurting the children, alienating the parents and making it difficult for parents to work together for the children after the custody case is over.  However when agreements cannot be reached, Johnna Teal is here to thoroughly, candidly, diligently and aggressively handle your child custody and visitation issues. 


Types of Custody


There are different types of custody:


Sole Custody : When sole physical custody is awarded or agreed upon, one parent has the right to have the child live primarily with him or her and certain decisions relating to the children are given exclusively to one parent.  That parent is then known as the custodial parent and the other parent becomes the noncustodial parent who has visitation rights with limited rights to making children related decisions.  In extreme circumstances such as limited to no contact with the child, drug abuse or physical abuse, sole custody is awarded to the custodial parent. Additionally, in those situations, the noncustodial parent may have restricted or supervised visitation.


Decisions given exclusively to the custodial parent include the right to make invasive non-emergency medical decisions, mental health decisions, legal decisions, child's educational decisions, decisions concerning  managing the wages or earnings of the child, receiving and giving receipt for child support, managing the child's estate, and consenting to underage marriage or enlistment in the  armed forces.


Joint Custody : In joint custody, parents share responsibility for major decision-making, and/or physical custody of the children. However, there is one parent who will typically have the exclusive right to determine the children's residence within a geographically restricted area.  Parents with joint custody usually share legal custody, but joint custody does not necessarily imply joint physical custody or 50/50 time sharing.  Parents need to be able to work together in the rearing of their children when they have joint legal custody.  The non-custodial parent or the parent who does not have the exclusive right to determine the residence of the child will typically be awarded a Standard Possession Order with options for a range of pick up and drop off times (e.g. 6:00 p.m. or at the time school is dismissed) and locations (e.g. custodial parent's residence, child's school or daycare). 


Split Custody : This is a less popular and a fairly unusual option, in which each parent takes custody of a different child. The court will not typically award such an arrangement absent an agreement by the parents or absent exigent circumstances requiring the need for children to be separated from their sibling.


Shared Custody  :  This is also a less popular and fairly unusual option and typically not awarded as an option by the courts after a contested hearing.  Shared custody, although not a legally recognized term, refers to parents splitting time with their children such as a week on/week off arrangements.  In fact, many courts will not approve an agreement for shared custody even based upon an agreement of the parents. 


Standard Possession Orders  :   This refers to what many people call "every other weekend".  However, in actuality, the noncustodial parent is entitled to weekend visitation on the first, third and fifth Fridays of each week beginning at 6:00 p.m. on Friday and ending at 6:00 p.m. on Sunday (unless extended by a holiday which may add a day or unless an expanded possession order for earlier pick up and later drop off is requested).  This differs from every other week as some months may have five Fridays which will entitle the non-custodial parent back-to-back weeks in those months (e.g. May 2012 and August 2012 are examples of months with five Friday and the noncustodial parent will have back to back weekend visitation).  During the school year, non-custodial parent is entitled to every Thursday from 6:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m., or he or she may request to expand this time to include pick up from school on Thursdays and drop back off to school on Fridays.  During the non-custodial parent's weekend, he or she may also request to expand the visitation period to begin at the time school is dismissed on Friday and ending at the time school resumes on Mondays.  The non-custodial parent is also entitled to 30-days of visitation in the summer in addition to the standard weekends; while parents alternate Thanksgiving and Spring Break; and shared the Christmas Holiday.


Custom Possession Orders  :  In cases that involve special needs children, parents with mental health issues, children under the age of three, or in situations where physical abuse or drug/alcohol use is raised as an issue, then courts will not typically award a Standard Possession Order.  The visitation schedule ordered will differ for each case based upon the facts and circumstances of the parents and children.


Contact my firm in Houston, Texas at 713-222-8200 to set up an initial consultation, where we can discuss your family law concerns.



Houston Office:

Johnna Teal & Associates


4100 Milam Street

Houston, Texas 77006

Phone: (713) 222.8200