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Parental rights and divorce

Parents in Texas who are getting divorced might wonder what they can do to ensure that they remain a part of their children's lives. In particular, some fathers may be concerned that they will be regarded as less crucial in the child's life than the mother.

First, parents should be reasonable about how custody and visitation fit into their lives. They should not request time when they won't really be free. If they have to scramble to find other family members to cover for them because they are unable to watch the child, this could be seen as squandered visitation time. One should also make sure that they have adequate physical space in their home for the child.

An ex may also need to face and deal with their emotions toward the other parent. There could be anger and pain, but ex-spouses need to set this aside to focus on the child's best interests. Parents also need to avoid arguments over small things, such as what clothes the child will wear. If custody matters become too heated, it may be a good idea to hire a lawyer.

An attorney might be able to assist a parent with negotiations over child custody or in a court case. Parents should keep in mind that they or a judge must make decisions about both legal and physical custody. While legal custody deals with who has the right to make decisions about a child's education, religion, medical care and other major issues, physical custody is about where the child lives. Parents may share one type of custody and not the other. Parents should also remember that "sole custody" usually does not mean that the noncustodial parent does not have access to the child. A visitation schedule can give the other parent almost equal time.

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