Understanding Child Custody in Texas (Ep. 13)

Child custody is always a challenging conversation to have, but with the right information you can make the process easier on everyone involved.

In this episode, Justin Sisemore, a Texas-based attorney, and Andrea Jones join Mary Maloney to unpack the options available in child custody battles and clear up some common misconceptions. 

Learn about joint custody, 50-50 custody, primary custody, sole custody, and parents’ rights under each arrangement. 

Justin and Andrea discuss:

  • The meaning of joint managing conservatorship in the Texas Family Courts
  • The significance of the different types of conservatorship arrangements
  • The role of decision-making in child custody
  • The hierarchical structure of the court’s approach to child custody
  • And more

Connect with Justin Sisemore

Connect with Andrea Jones:

Read the Show Transcript

[00:00:00] Nobody wants to end up in family court, but if you do, you want an honest, experienced family law attorney by your side to help minimize the stress, mental anguish, and legal costs that divorce and custody matters bring. Welcome to in your Best Interest. Texas divorce attorney and entrepreneur, Justin Sisemore of the Sisemore Law Firm, entrepreneur, Andrea Jones, freelance writer Mary Maloney, and guests.

Share insight on what to expect and how to handle family law matters, the changing landscape of family law and living the entrepreneur’s life. Now onto the show. Some of the biggest battles that play out in the family courts involve child custody. If you are gearing up for a custody battle of your own, it’s important to understand the different options that are available to you.

In this episode of In Your Best Interest, we’ll discuss the difference between joint custody 50/50 custody, primary custody and [00:01:00] sole custody, while shining a spotlight on the right’s parents have under these different arrangements in Texas. Thanks for joining us for this episode of In Your Best Interest.

I’m Mary Maloney, and today attorney Justin Sisemore, who’s joining us remote today, as well as entrepreneur, Andrea Jones and I will try to clear up some misconceptions about child custody in Texas. So Justin, ground zero for custody starts with joint managing conservatorship here. Can you explain what that means and why it’s generally a starting point in the Texas Family Courts?

Well, joint managing conservatorship really is a title. Um, and I’m, I’m very careful when we talk about joint managing conservatorship to not get too broad based with the title and really break it down into what it is and what it isn’t. So joint managing conservatorship in its purest form, uh, basically means that the parties reach agreements for key rights and duties.

And a child custody [00:02:00] action. So what that means is we always talk about the big three, the right to establish the residence, make educational and medical decisions, and the right to make, uh, psychological and psychiatric decisions for the child or children. And so when you talk about joint managing conservatorship, uh, generally speaking, if you just start from the baseline, all of those rights would be subject to the agreement.

If it’s true joint managing conservatorship, because what the court is saying in an order is that both parents equally contribute to the child’s wellbeing welfare. Um, and decision making, uh, that’s involved with respect to conservatorship. It’s also broken down into possession and access. And then obviously you have the financial being, the health insurance, the child support, payment of daycare and medical expenses.

And so true joint managing conservatorship in most people’s minds is were just kind of a 50/50 arrangement. And what I see a [00:03:00] lot of clients doing is saying, well, the order says joint managing conservatorship, so we’re just neutral. Well, you really need to break down those rights and duties because it’s not always neutral, and you can give that, uh, overarching title of joint managing conservatorship, but really strip the rights from out from under it.

So that’s why I really wanted clients to understand. What joint managing conservatorship is in its purest form so that you know the rights that you’re seeking if you’re trying to expand or limit those rights of the other parent, uh, and just calling them the joint managing conservator really doesn’t have much significance unless you dive into those rights and duties.

So Justin, can you talk a little bit about how joint custody or joint managing conservatorship and 50/50 custody are actually different? Because there’s a, there’s definitely a misconception about that. Yeah. One of the questions I get a lot is just, you know, can we do a 50/50 arrangement? Um, I, or I want custody.

And keep in [00:04:00] mind, the presumption in the Texas Family Code is that joint managing conservatorship is in the best interest of a child or children. And so when you go in with both parties having remotely clean hands, um, You’re dealing with a situation where the courts say, Hey, joint managing conservatorship is where our starting point is.

And unless you really have issue with decision making or a party that just kind of steps out of the decision making process and or really gets in the way of the other party, uh, you don’t really see the courts, uh, too often wanting to eliminate the other parent’s ability to part. But you do have a trump card.

And what that trump card generally entails is, for example, in education, if one party has the exclusive right to make educational decisions after consultation with the other parent, uh, or subject to the agreement or the sole and independent, right? Those are really your spectrum of different options in a conservatorship.

Uh, right. And [00:05:00] that’s just on the education and limited education, same. The issue of medical, uh, independent as to medical or one party has the exclusive right or the party has the right to make medical decisions after consultation or subject to the agreement. And the reason why those are all significant is cuz they have very different connotations on a going forward basis.

Obviously when you have a child that’s two years old and you have a joint managing conservatorship with education being subject to the agreement, and the child’s not in school yet, or doesn’t have any special needs or extracurricular needs that the school may impose, uh, or similar with respect to. Uh, the medical or psychiatric and psychological, uh, treatment of the child.

With respect to medication, the courts really have kind of want to take this ground of imposing a superior, right as a tiebreaker in the event that parties reach an impasse. And the reason that’s important is because if you don’t have a [00:06:00] tiebreaker, i e, the person with the exclusive right after consultation, then you end up at an impasse and or you end up with two parties making entirely different decisions for the child.

And you can’t have consistency, you can’t have decisions made. Um, and oftentimes the schools and or medical profession professionals are just in conflict with the parents and they just want to step out. So courts try to eliminate a lot of that conflict, and they also want to eliminate. Um, the parties need to come right back to court in the event that there’s an impasse.

So when we talk about joint managing conservatorship and 50/50, um, arrangements, I get a lot of, you know, parents, fathers and mothers that call and say, Hey, I just want to be equal. Um, and, and even with the possession and access schedule that that is 50/50, you can still have those, um, trumping provisions in there, uh, that are necessary to make decisions, uh, and avoid court inter.

So what [00:07:00] I tell all clients is, Really think about what your role is with the child and what you’ve been doing and your level of involvement. Because I can ask one or two questions of somebody who comes to court, uh, and says, Hey, I want primary and I want the exclusive right to make medical decisions and educational decisions for the child.

And I can really open up that client in cross-ex examination on the opposing side and ask them very specific questions that they just don’t have the answers to. And if they’re unprepared, then obviously. Their, their request falls on deaf ears and, you know, so it’s, it’s a important to prepare the clients of what you’ve been doing.

It’s important to say, well, if you’re going to ask for these rights, you need to understand the kind of questions that can be thrown at you in a courtroom. In a very rapid pace, in very different and chaotic manners with interruptions and people walking into court and judges, you know, stopping the hearings midstream to go take care of other things.

So it’s just really important to kind of come out with that power punch and have [00:08:00] that clear plan. For joint conservatorship, really separating those rights. And then two, really keeping the, the possession schedule separate from those rights. The other thing I wanna touch on just very briefly is just the hierarchical structure or org chart for, in my opinion, what courts look at.

Um, obviously, you know, they, they want to, uh, adhere to the idea or ideal, if you will, of co-parenting. And that’s the first step. Then they wanna put the child first, and then the parents, uh, come third. And then third party is obviously down the trough. So, um, it’s just important to keep that in your mindset when you’re thinking about legal strategy.

Uh, because if you go in there and you don’t think about co-parenting or that, that is the court’s goal, and you have the, the client that just wants to make all the decisions and doesn’t want the other party to have input, that doesn’t usually go very well. And you see clients say things. Well, there’s no way that they can ever, um, you know, ever satisfy the child [00:09:00] or ever take care of the child in the way that I do it.

And it comes off as arrogant. Um, it comes off as a parent who doesn’t seek or desire to co-parent. And, you know, oftentimes that leads to a path of parental alienation and things that courts see, because keep in mind they’re watching a child from a lens of, you know, birth all the way to the 18th birthday, right?

They’re not just looking at it from your little two year window or five year window that you might be considering your custody arrangement in. So Justin, you talked about the big three parental rights, um, and duties. Can you kinda shine a spotlight in some of the other ones because people. Really, most people don’t really realize what they are, that they actually exist.

Yeah. And there are, you know, I always talk about the big three and we sometimes neglect some of the other important rights and duties that are laid out. Keep in mind, with joint managing conservatorship, you’re always gonna have the ability to access medical information and school information. [00:10:00] Um, and it you have duties that are laid out to support the child and care for the child and discipline the child and not abuse the child.

You know, the, the common decent human components, if you. Uh, as far as the legal duties, but when it comes to the specific other duties that are relevant, you know, the right to enlistment and armed services and things like that, we don’t have the draft anymore at, at young ages, so those, those aren’t as important.

But we are seeing, um, a lot more issues come up with the right to service and earnings of the child. Specifically, we represent a lot of high profile athletes and, and so, you know, when you’re dealing with, with athletes and their kids, And other kids that are going through custody cases that may be involved with, uh, name, image and likeness.

Um, you know, they’re not supposed to be, uh, engaging these children, uh, until the 18th birthday, but let me just be very clear. They definitely are. You see on YouTube every day, some kid that’s throwing a [00:11:00] football 60 yards, that’s 13 years old, they’re already positioning and posturing that child and may even be, uh, compensating that child in the form of YouTube or Bitcoin or setting the child up for certain advertising vehicles and so the rights to service and earnings can be important. Um, the rights to religious and moral trainings, we still have a conflict with the First Amendment right? So, uh, I don’t see courts step on parents’ ability to raise a child, um, in certain religious facts, uh, very often. You know, obviously if there is one party that is engaging in, uh, very odd behavior, cult-like behavior, we, we’ve had these extreme outliers, but, but you generally, you know, just are dealing with in religious and moral training, um, you know, the aspects of how you discipline.

Um, and those are really done not so much [00:12:00] in the right and duty section, but, but actually injunctions against things like corporal punish. Um, you know, making sure that the child attends activities or tutoring, making sure that the child attends church functions. Uh, if the other party has the exclusive right to designate, uh, the religious and moral training of the child.

Um, so we don’t see the courts getting too involved in the other rights as much. Um, and obviously the right to marry, um, you know, that doesn’t come up a whole lot in our profession, uh, because, you know, most people aren’t getting married at 16 anymore. Um, and so the right to consent to those, uh, those elements like armed services and marriage don’t come up as as much.

Um, and, and, and those, that’s why I just kind of stick with the big three. Um, because with the big three comes a lot of other components in it that really allows for the decisions to be made anyway. And that’s really what clients are, are after when they’re seeking custody. When they say, I want primary custody, or I want custody, [00:13:00] that’s really what they don’t understand what they’re seeking, but that’s, that’s how they get custody is those, those big three.

All right, so let’s kind of move on and talk, uh, about the difference between primary custody and sole custody, because a lot of people get confused about that. Can you explain the difference between those two? Again, we’re dealing with the concept of titles and, and I feel like what a lot of attorneys and clients do is they skip straight to the conclusion or the title.

I want custody. Well, that’s a judge’s decision, right? Best interest of a child, and conservatorship is generally left up to a judge. Oftentimes that starts with the associate court in the temporary orders, and it ends up getting converted after discovery into a mediated settlement agreement at mediation.

And generally speaking, like you say, you have the temporary orders that lead into the mediation and they are the leverage piece. And so then you get a mediated settlement agreement that has the [00:14:00] conservatorship provisions, the visitation and access provisions in. And with respect to sole conservatorship, when we talk about titles, again, I can name you joint managing conservator, but I can strip you of the titles, meaning I can say one party, your Joint Managing Conservators, but Mother has exclusive on education, medical, uh, and the big three and, and the other rights and the, the title of Sole managing conservatorship is really, it.

Sole managing conservatorship was really developed for situations where you have parties that really get in the way of decision making and or every, at every turn, they’re just putting up a roadblock. And so courts, uh, will use that as a kind of last ditch effort. To say, all right, you’re not gonna be involved at all.

And because mom tried to call you and you put up a roadblock and you threatened the counselors and you threatened the teachers in the school and, and you made these, um, you [00:15:00] know, brush fires, turn into forest fires at every turn. Now we’re gonna strip you completely of your rights, and that’s when we’re gonna go to sole.

Uh, the other instance where we see sole is unfortunately in the situation of family violence, the family code has a very clear provision that in the event that the court finds under the penal code, that family violence has been committed. The court shall not name you joint managing conservators, uh, and I can’t tell you how many times there’s been a protective order or a finding of family violence. And I see joint managing conservatorship, and I’m like, how did you get named joint managing conservatorship, uh, or joint managing conservator? And the answer is, well, my lawyer didn’t tell me about that. And it, it’s, it’s a mandatory provision. Um, so sometimes they reach agreements, so they made a finding on temporary orders that there was family violence or there was a protective order, and they just kind of walked through an order that has JMC or joint management conservatorship in it.

And so now all of a sudden your, your, your [00:16:00] ceiling and floor is this new title when if you didn’t strike while the irons hot or while that event. Very fresh and relevant to the child custody provisions. Uh, now you affect child custody modifications in the future, and you know, I always talk about. The idea of where you left off in the last order is a good starting place for where you go in a modification.

So if you’re in a, if you’re a sole managing conservator and a party has limited or supervised access, it’s much harder for the other party to come back and then request a custody flip. Um, and so those, those provisions as far as sole really are important to eliminate a lot of that hassle and headache that just creates a lot of stressors for a child and a family environment.

When you have one party that’s just totally unreasonable and won’t work with the other parent. But I don’t pitch soul managing conservatorship or tell parties to, to go down that path unless it’s absolutely necessary. That is a last ditch effort that the [00:17:00] parties should be seeking for their child’s sake, and also that the courts are willing to do.

Because they want the parties, again, under that hierarchical org, org chart to work together under primary conservatorship, uh, for co-parenting. Uh, and then two, putting the child first, uh, and then three the parties. So yeah, a lot of times you’ve, you’ve told stories, Justin, that you, you’ll have clients come into your office and they, they want custody and that’s what they’re asking for and they expect to get it.

So how do you essentially take the wind out of their sails? How do you approach those conversations? The, the cleanest answer to that question is just as far as on a weekly basis, I usually have anywhere from two to four hearings on any given week. Um, and so every, every case study, every fact pattern that I’m giving is very fresh inside of the last six months, and generally in that specific, So when I can say things like, Hey, we were in [00:18:00] court yesterday and these were the fact patterns and because you’ve given me this fact pattern and you feel that that should rise to the level of sole.

You know, we want to be very careful of not over pleading or overstating our case. And I see so many, uh, I hear, I call ’em the Bulldog lawyers. You know, the clients that want the bull. Uh, those lawyers go in and they over ask or overreach for the relief, and the client’s not even prepared for what the relief is, much less the facts that are necessary to get you there.

Um, and so what I do oftentimes is I actually cross-examine the client. Uh, in front of a family member or in front of their key witnesses so that I, I asked the third parties, uh, or staff members, how do you think that went for them and what do you think the court would look at there? And sometimes it’s just nice to have a third party that they trust in addition to us, and in addition to our team, tell them, Hey, look, that didn’t go very well for you.

Right. Uh, because it’s very hard when you’ve got [00:19:00] emotions involved and your ex or you’re getting a divorce, uh, or you’ve just recently separated. It’s very hard when you ha take all of the emotional elements, um, that you deal with on a personal basis in your indivi, in the individual relationship, and not separate those from the what’s in, what’s best for the child.

And so what I always do is say, look, take your name out of the equation. Take your, take the, your x out of the equation. Let’s just look at the big three, smoking guns, if you will, and, and tell me why you believe that, that you’re at this sole management conservatorship level where you should never have to communicate anything about the child.

And then I’ll often shift it to the other foot and I’ll say, okay. Let’s say for example, that he comes in with some evidence that you haven’t shared with me and he says he wants soul and doesn’t want to share any information with you. How would you feel, um, in that scenario and how do you feel knowing that the court’s goal is [00:20:00] co-parenting and you’d, you would want some input in the decision making and you’d want to be included in those decisions and you get completely shut.

And the clients that just, you know, are adamant about, you know, their side or their position without really good reason, uh, generally we’re just not the right fit for them and they’re not the right fit for us as a client. And, and they, they either want a pound of flesh or want to go scorched earth and.

Obviously litigation is not the environment to do that. It’s very costly, it’s very time consuming. Um, you know, people forget facts. Witnesses don’t show up. Courts get canceled, changed. Freezes happen, COVID happens. There’s just so many moving parts that you have to really think through a clear strategy.

And then you also have to remember when we are gone as the attorneys, when we’re no longer representing you, you have to deal with all of the pieces that have been blown up inside of that custody case. And so if you wanna do things, Change weekends or go and have, you know, your family take the kids for an extended [00:21:00] vacation and it’s not in your order.

It’s very challenging when you’ve gone scored earth on the other side to get them to agree to anything. Um, by the same token, when you have extreme circumstances on the other side of that coin, You have to make sure that, uh, you draw a very clear line in the sand and set those boundaries from the narcissist or the alcoholic, or the drug addict or the abuser, uh, or the person that just won’t cooperate or co-parent any, any way, shape or form.

So I’m not saying at all that we don’t. Deal with those issues? We do. It’s just, I, I want to be very clear that that’s not the goal for our firm. Our goal is to make sure that we change people for the better so that they cooperate in an environment to eliminate stress for kids. And I don’t care how many times you do it and how good of a law a lawyer you are.

If you blow up the world in, in a child custody situation, that child inevitably is going to be extremely anxiety ridden, extremely stress ridden, generally have, um, all kinds of [00:22:00] psychological and. Social issues, uh, that take years of healing. And so any lawyer that just comes out of the gate swinging and beating their chest or whatever they do, you know, I just, I feel like it’s a total disservice to clients because they’re emotional and they wanna win.

And they, most importantly, they wanna make sure that they’re, they’re heard. And if you, if you just bear witness to all that and you don’t really lead in the form of litigation, you create an environment that just is toxic for a child. And that’s, that’s just absolutely the worst thing you can do, in my opinion.

I think as a, from a parent perspective, who has gone through this, I think, again, we talked about this over and over again. What is the best interest of the child? And we get so many calls where you can clearly hear that the only reason they want to go for a certain, um, custody, that they are trying to hurt the other parent.

Oh, I’m gonna take the kids away from her cuz she has done X, Y, and Z to me. Or, I’m not gonna let ’em have access to the kid [00:23:00] because he left me for another woman. All those different scenarios. And at the end of the day, the only thing that matters are the kids and the kids should be with both parents.

You already mentioned that there are certain situations where that’s not possible, but at the end of the day, it’s all about the kids. The kids should see both parents, they should be involved in both parents and major decision, like a surgery or something. The other parents should have at least say so, or share opinions, even if one person trumps the opinion at the very end.

Well, it’s very sad to see that people try to have. Personal battles and try to put that on the kids, especially when the kids are little. There’s another 15 years, 10 years, whatever. You have to get along with each other, so it’s very sad to see, don’t do that. Just focus on the kid. What would the kids, or think about your own parents, what would you, as when you were a kid, how would you would’ve felt if your parents would’ve done that to you?

That you couldn’t see your mom, or couldn’t see your dad anymore, or Mom or dad is not involved? It’s very sad. Don’t do it. Yeah. Mary, on, on that, I, I, I oftentimes [00:24:00] project to the future with respect to your kids, having kids and getting married and going to college receptions and high school graduations.

Because when you’re, when you’re thinking about a three to five year old, you’re not thinking that far down the, the trough. And so, Buying a vehicle for a child, uh, paying for extracurriculars, a lot of times those, those provisions aren’t gonna be ordered, right? And so if you just blow up the world and go scorched earth again, you create scenarios that don’t foster those environments, you’re really left out.

While you’ve got the exclusive on decision making, you’re really left to raise that child on your own financially. And the child support laws in Texas, as we know, with the cap of about 9,300 bucks a month on, on the, the wage. You have one child at 20% of that, two kids at 25% of that, three kids at 30% of 9,300 bucks as Max child support.

Unless there’s special needs, it doesn’t leave a lot of room for financial assistance. And so I don’t often see parties when they have been called everything under the sun and said that they [00:25:00] can’t raise the child and the child’s in danger in their care, wanting to just pull out their wallet and help in other areas that other parent.

And you don’t know what your financial circumstances are gonna be in the future. So you really have to think about all those issue. So in closing for both of you, I’d really, um, like to lead people with some tips on how to successfully co-parent and share custody. Andrea, you have like lived it for many years.

Mm-hmm. and Justin, you guide clients through it all the time. So I, I would love to hear both of your perspective on that as we close the podcast. I can go first and then Justin, get closer. Again, like I just said, you need to figure out a way to get along with the other parent. Take yourself out of the equation.

You might hate the other person. Don’t like the other person. It doesn’t matter. It’s all for the betterment of the kids. The kids should come first. In all situations. And then you sometimes have to swallow down what you wanna say and, and you need to share, like, I don’t understand. You need to share medical records or share with the other parent who the teacher is and teacher conferences and all those things.

Cuz again, the kid [00:26:00] is gonna be sad, whatever, playing football and daddy’s not showing up or mommy’s not showing up. So don’t withhold information, try to be a good human being. And, and again, at some point you love that other person that you have kids with. And the kids identify, especially when they’re little identify with.

And daddy, so do not put your personal agenda into those child custody situations. And then another thing we didn’t even touch on, uh, Justin, we might wanna talk about that. Trying to get 50/50 to just avoid paying child support is also not, it’s not gonna fly either. So just we hear that also, oh, I’m gonna get half of the possession and I don’t have to, I don’t have to pay child support.

That’s also not how that works. What’s best for the kid? Put that first and then make decisions based. Yeah, I, I, I, I would go back to that 50/50 scenario, especially in modifications where one party has an expanded standard or standard possession schedule. I get the call all the time, Hey, you know, I want to go to 50/50.

And the, the, [00:27:00] the family code is very clear in case law that supports, um, you know, the parent with exclusive right to designate the. That in order to modify that and get temporary orders, you have to have a material and substantial change in circumstances that significantly impairs emotional health, safety, and welfare of the child.

And I, I mean, I can’t tell you how many times parties file these 50 50 requests and we just go shut ’em down in the beginning and the temporary orders, um, because they didn’t do their homework and didn’t do their research and didn’t file the pleadings properly, didn’t put the affidavits, didn’t state all the facts that are necess.

The court’s supposed to refuse and shall refuse to set a hearing if they don’t find it. But sometimes they’re, you know, they, they walk this through, they get a setting, and then you get to court and you hear parties, you know, just come up with nonsensical approaches as to 50 50. Or they just come in and literally say what’s contrary to the law, which is, I just want more time.

Well, tough cookies. That’s not what the law states. And so, um, I think 50 50 is, is is a very careful observation [00:28:00] and consideration when you’re gonna spend money on an attorney. They should really walk through the likelihood of that. Um, but getting back to your question, Mary, as far as, um, what I do with clients and with respect to co-parenting, I think the cleanest way to co-parent is to not project your beliefs or your speculation or your conclusion on the other parent.

And what I mean by that is if you are saying, Hey, this child is always upset when they come back from you because of what you’re doing at your house or, or what’s going on with your wife over there, or whatever the situation is, you don’t live there. You don’t know what’s going on, first of all. And second of all, A lot of that’s gonna be hearsay.

It’s not gonna come into court in the form of evidence. So the best way to really get information that solves these problems is to let the other party know, Hey, how, how? How can we address these issues? You know? I know you have issues with this counselor. Who would you suggest and tell [00:29:00] me why. Right? Ask more open-ended questions when you’re trying to.

Answers nailed down. I do that in depositions all the time because usually the other party will expose themselves, or they’ll kind of, they’ll kind of box themselves into a corner and if they just shut down, well then you’ve got ’em, you know that you’ve got ’em right. And if they, if they really open up and they go, wow, this person really wants to have my input.

Sometimes you can, even with a totally toxic relationship, just by asking, what do you think about this? Or the child, you know, I took away his phone. I just wanna make. At your house, you know, I’m, I’m following consistently with what your discipline side is. How do you, how do you handle this? Well, I don’t have discipline problems at my house.

Well, that’s just not true, right? That’s just a dramatic response. And so you can get those dramatic responses, blow ’em off, know that that’s not true, and ask them things like, well look, you know, We can both acknowledge that we may have different opinions and I, I wanna make sure that, that we’re not just, [00:30:00] you know, being toxic with each other.

So what are your thoughts about going to a co-parenting counselor and just having an intermediary to teach us how to communicate? Cause I’ll fall on the sword. I’ll wave the white flag. I’ll say that I’m not the best at it. . And when you, when you take that humble approach and that open-ended approach, I think you get a much better result out of the other party.

And if you don’t, uh, get that result, obviously now you have the party’s statements directly and you can testify to those statements directly in a courtroom. You can, when you’ve offered open-ended, um, you know, white flag raising, if you will, in text messages or emails or conversations, and the other party snaps back at you with very harsh tones or unrealistic expectations.

You can use that against them and you put that in your timeline and we, that’s when we really kind of exposed the other side in a big way. And being firm and doing that is exactly what the strength and cross-examination of the best family lawyers out there are. And one thing I wanna add too is remember when you go through [00:31:00] those custody battles, it’s because you are getting divorced or you are, you are already separated from the other party.

And part of that reason is that you did not see eye to eye. So don’t expect the other party to agree with everything you want to do. And again, if they don’t agree and you can’t find a solution, then you just have to bless and released. Unless the kids are in danger, they’re not gonna die. If you want the kid to have a cell phone, And the other parent doesn’t want that, so be it.

I mean, it’s not gonna impact the kids. My kids are all over the age of 18 and they’re all turned out great and they, we had all kinds of disagreements about this stuff. At some point you just gotta say, this is not endangering the child and it’s gonna be okay. In the long run, it’s gonna be okay. Don’t fight over those things that are really not important.

Great point. Any final thoughts from you guys on this topic? I know there’s a lot more we could go into, but for. Yeah, I’ll just leave with this. You know, I, I, I’ve talked before about being an Amicus attorney. I used to be an amicus attorney on over a hundred [00:32:00] cases where I represented, uh, kind of the intermediary of the child’s wishes and exposing, um, parties, shortcomings and or over lawyering to a court.

And I will tell you that in. Almost every one of those kids, and this is really telling, and some of those relationships were very toxic. In almost every one of those cases, I asked the clients to sit down and say, all right, I want you to tell me 10 things you want to change about the other parent. and then you tell me 10 things and we stopped at each one and kind of addressed how we could address those.

But then when I got to the child and some of ’em had some really significant, uh, changes and some opinions, when I got to the child, I said, you know, do you love your mom? Yeah. Tell me, do you love your dad? Yeah. And, and how, how do they treat you? Well, they’re great. What, what, what do you not like about how they treat each other?

I just don’t want to be in the middle of this. If you could have a ma wave of magic wand and you could have anything you want in. I mean anything, any toy, any car, anything. What would it be? I just want my [00:33:00] parents to stop fighting. Almost 90% of the kids came out and said that, and in very toxic relationships where I was hired and brought in by the court.

To calm the waters. That’s what they said. So if that, if that doesn’t leave you with some wisdom, uh, for the parents out there that are about to file a custody case or about to be in a divorce, I don’t know what does. And if you think that you’ve got all the answers, as the parent, when I don’t, and I’ve been doing this thousands of times for 15 years, I can tell you, you, you need to really have an open mind and open heart and open ears and be willing to make some changes.

To get where you need to be so you can co-parent. And if you can’t, then we could absolutely put those boundaries in place and the courts will enforce them over time and it won’t be on your dime or your time as I always say. But they will execute very serious orders and really limit the other party.

From getting in the way of a good relationship with that child, and more importantly, getting in the way of [00:34:00] two parents that are trying to work together. So let’s just do the right thing. People, it’s not that complicated. I think that’s a great place to wrap up today. So, um, if, if obviously there’s more things that we can talk about on the topic of child custody and we will, but if you have anything specifically you’d like us to discuss on this podcast, um, please let us know.

And if you’d like to get in touch with the Sisemore Law Firm, you can call us at (817) 336-4444 or visit lawyer dfw.com. We also invite you to follow the podcast and share it with friends who might find it helpful. Thanks again for listening in and have a great day. Thank you for listening to In Your Best Interest with Texas Divorce Attorney and entrepreneur Justin Sisemore.

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