How far would you go to get custody of your child? In one recent Texas case reported by U.S. News & World Report, one 34-year old mother (along with her husband and father-in-law), plotted the death of the man who had been awarded custody of their daughter from a previous relationship. According to court records, after the woman stabbed the man to death, she and her father-in-law drove to the victim’s home in Abilene to take the child. Ultimately, the plan failed and the woman was charged with murder, while her accomplices were arrested for conspiracy.
There is a better way
Unfortunately, too many people still think of child custody as ownership. Under Texas law, custody is called conservatorship. The courts determine what is best for the child and grants conservatorship to one parent, while often granting “possessory conservatorship” to the other parent. The expectation is that both parents will share in upbringing general well-being of the child. But to do so requires cooperation on the part of both parents.
While the case of murdering the child’s custodial parent is fortunately unusual, kidnapping and domestic assault violence resulting in serious injury and fear is more common. In many cases, one or both parents choose to ignore court orders regarding parenting time. In other cases, the parent granted custody chooses to be inflexible regarding short-term changes required by the other parent.
Conservatorship is not ownership
Whether you have been awarded conservatorship or have been awarded visitation rights as the non-custodial parent, when a dispute erupts between yourself and the other parent, DO NOT RELY ON AN INFORMAL ARRANGEMENT. In most cases, temporary agreements made in driveways or over the phone fall apart when one party can’t stick to the terms. These agreements are not binding in court and can actually result in more problems in the event you later decide to get a change made official.
Visit our Child Custody page to learn more about our services for modifying your current court order.