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Steps To Take To Get Legal Custody Of My Child Back

mother and daughter reunited

There are many different situations under which you may have lost legal custody of your child, such as where:

  • A court found that you were an unsuitable parent;
  • You did not participate in a paternity case; or,
  • A judge awarded sole custody to your child’s other parent in a divorce matter.

As a result of losing legal custody, you do not have the power to participate in important decision making regarding how to raise the child. Plus, there are implications related to visitation and support any time custody is at stake.

The good news is that there are strategies for getting legal custody or access and possession of your child back, but there are certain legal requirements and court rules you must follow in order to do so. Because the process can be complex and is likely to involve heated emotions, it is critical to count on a Texas child custody attorney for assistance with the proceedings. Still, you should be aware of the steps involved with getting legal custody of your child back.

1. Gather Essential Proof and Talk to Witnesses. The first official step in getting custody or modifying an existing order is filing a petition to modify the court’s standing order on the matter, which is described in more detail below. However, there is some preparation work you will need to do to support the petition. You need proof that granting you legal custody, or in the alternative, more access and possession is in the child’s best interests and meets the various factors that the judge will review in making a determination. Therefore, it is best to collect this evidence in advance and include it when you file your documentation. Plus, you should contact people that you might want to testify as witnesses on your behalf.

2. File a Petition to Modify Legal Custody. Your goal is to get custody of your child after losing it, so the process starts by making a formal request that the court modifies the order that is currently in place. For any custody and visitation modifications, there must be a change in circumstances and the child’s best interests are no longer being served through the existing arrangement. You must also state the reasons why the modification – granting you legal custody – IS in the child’s best interests. Your petition should include information on:

  • Your child’s wishes, if he or she is old enough and sufficiently mature to make such a decision;
  • The physical and emotional needs of your child;
  • The absence of any danger to the child through granting custody;
  • Your ability to support the child’s developmental needs;
  • How you plan to exercise custody rights to benefit the child;
  • Any acts or omissions indicating that the current arrangement – sole custody by your child’s other parent – is NOT a proper one.

3. Review Any Response Filed by Your Child’s Other Parent. Once you file your petition for modification, the opposing party will have the opportunity to respond in writing. In some cases, your child’s other parent may agree to share joint custody or might be willing to negotiate a compromise. Under such circumstances, you may prepare the necessary paperwork and request that the court enter an appropriate order. However, if the matter is contested, you will need to carefully review the response.

4. Discovery and Mediation. The time between the initial filing of the petition to modify and the final trial is where the bulk of the legal process occurs. You may want your legal team to conduct discovery, where the responding party answers questions and submits financial, medical, educational, or other documents relevant to the case. Depositions may be scheduled, where a party is deposed and must answer legal questions on the record. Many courts in Texas require parties to attempt mediation, where the parties (with the help of a third-party mediator) attempt to reach an agreement on the terms of modifying an existing order.

5. Prepare for the Trial on Custody Modification. If the parties are unable to reach an agreement during the litigation process, then the court will set your case for a final trial. During the proceeding, you will have the opportunity to present your evidence, witnesses, and your own testimony. The opposing party will also have the chance to introduce proof that contradicts your petition. Once both sides rest, the judge will review all evidence and testimony. He or she will meticulously go over the proof as it applies to each factor in the child’s best interests standard. The court will then issue a ruling on your petition, which will likely be in your favor if you have met your burden in showing why you should have legal custody of or additional access to your child.

A Texas Child Custody Attorney Can Handle the Legal Process

These are the basic steps for getting legal custody of your child back, but there may be additional requirements based upon your unique circumstances. Instead of trying to go it alone and putting your rights as a parent at risk, trust our team at The Ramos Law Group, PLLC to advocate on your behalf. Our lawyers can assist with gathering evidence, filing the necessary documents, and representing you in court. To learn more about how we can help, please contact our office to set up a consultation right away.