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The basic structure and rationale for child custody laws in Texas are essential to know if you are in the middle of a child custody dispute or anticipate a child custody dispute. 

However, the answer to so many questions that you likely have about your custody case is “it depends.” The circumstances of every case are different. While it’s possible to distill the basics of child custody laws in Texas into an article, the best thing you can do if you are in the middle of a custody dispute is to talk to and hire an experienced Conroe child custody lawyer. 

The attorneys at Ramos Law Group know Texas child custody law. More importantly, we know how to listen, identify the things about your case that make it unique, and prepare the most effective strategy to get you what you want. Whether it’s an initial child custody determination, a change in an existing child custody arrangement, a child support determination, or a visitation schedule that works for you, we are here to advocate for you.  

How Courts Determine Who Gets Custody

Texas courts’ primary concern is always the child’s best interests when determining child custody. This principle guides all custody decisions. Generally, the “best interests” standard aims to ensure children’s emotional, physical, and psychological well-being. 

Judges in Texas have broad discretion in determining what custody scenario is in the best interests of the child. At a custody hearing, both parents will have an opportunity to present evidence to the judge in support of their position.

In Texas, judges typically evaluate the following factors when deciding what custody arrangement is in the best interests of the child:

  • Child’s preference. If the child is older than 12, judges will consider their preference for where they live. Often, the judge will ask the child to voice their preference in the judge’s private chambers. 
  • Parents’ ability to meet their child’s needs. The judge will assess each parent’s ability to provide a stable and nurturing environment, both now and in the future. The judge will consider the child’s future anticipated physical and emotional needs. 
  • Child’s bond with each parent. The judge will evaluate the emotional bonds between each parent and each child. Key to this is how much time each parent typically spends with the child and the activities they engage in while together. 
  • Family history. Judges may also consider any past behaviors or incidents, or the absence of any behaviors, which suggest a parent’s inability to cope with the stresses of raising a child. Included in this consideration is any history of substance abuse or domestic violence in the family. 
  • Any other relevant factor. Because every case is different, judges have discretion to review and consider anything else that might be relevant. They will usually inspect the child’s home, school, and community records. 

Based on these factors, the judge will decide what custody arrangement best serves the child’s best interests. 


Different Types of Custody Arrangements

In Texas, there are several custody arrangements you might encounter:

  • Joint managing conservatorship (JMC). Often referred to as joint custody, this is when both parents share the rights and duties of parenting. Parents do not need to have equal time with the children to have a JMC. 
  • Sole managing conservatorship (SMC). Often referred to as full custody, this is when one parent has exclusive rights to make decisions for the child. 
  • Possessory conservatorship: This is what Texas calls the parent who is not a managing conservator. This parent still has the right to spend time with the child and participate in some decisions regarding the child’s upbringing. 

Within these arrangements, physical custody (where the child lives and when) and legal custody (decision-making power) can be divided differently. The decision-making contemplated by a judge’s orders generally concerns educational and medical decisions for the child. Daily decisions about meals, clothing, and screen time are typically left to the parent the child is physically living with at the time. 

Is Joint Managing Conservatorship the Norm?

Yes. The law presumes that parents should be joint managing conservators unless some factor rebuts that presumption. In most cases, Texas courts aim to award joint, or shared, custody to two parents. This means that both parents share equally in the rights and responsibilities of raising the child. 

Joint custody does not guarantee equal physical custody time. But joint custody does mean each parent has an equal say in major decisions that affect the health and well-being of the child. 

How Do I Obtain Full Custody or Sole Managing Conservatorship?

SMCs are less common in Texas. But you might be granted full custody if:

  • The other parent has a history of family violence or substance abuse;
  • The other parent has been absent from the child’s life; or
  • You can prove that joint custody is not in the child’s best interests.

An experienced family law attorney can assess your case and offer guidance on whether a sole managing conservatorship is a possibility for you. 


Can I Change a Custody Arrangement?

Yes, custody arrangements are not set in stone. However, even if both parents agree to the change, they cannot make enforceable changes to a custody order without the approval of the court. You can petition the court to modify a custody order if:

  • There has been a material and substantial change in circumstances since the original order; 
  • The child has turned 12 since the judge put the existing custody order in place, the child has expressed a custody preference, and the child is willing to share that preference with the judge; or
  • The conservator with the exclusive right to designate the primary residence of the child has voluntarily given up the primary care of the child for at least six months.

A material and substantial change in circumstances is the most common reason for modification. Such a change can be anything that significantly alters the best interests analysis the judge originally considered, like one parent moving away.

A Conroe child custody lawyer from Ramos Law Group has vast experience with child custody modifications. We can assess your situation, petition the court for a modification, and advocate for you during every stage of the modification process.


Why You Need Ramos Law Group

You only get to raise your kids one time. And you are doing everything you can to do it right. Dealing with child custody is complex. Each case comes with its very own legal considerations and its own emotional challenges. Engaging an experienced child custody attorney will make a significant difference toward achieving your goals. Here’s why:

  • Expertise in family law. We understand and have decades of experience in Texas family law, specifically in Conroe, Texas.  
  • Advocacy. We are committed to representing you and your interests throughout the custody determination process. 
  • Support. We can guide you through the process and give you the best legal advice. We also excel at giving you the support you need from the start of your case through whatever modifications become necessary. 
  • Negotiation. We will negotiate on your behalf. Conroe attorneys know and respect us. 
  • Paperwork and procedures. Court proceedings require much paperwork and the ability to navigate court procedures. We know how to do this with precision and care.

You want what’s in your child’s best interests. So do we. That much is simple. But collecting, assembling, and presenting the evidence you need for your desired custody arrangement is more complex. Let us do that for you. We are proud of what we accomplish for our clients and confident in our legal skills. Call us today or contact us online to schedule a consultation and learn more about our team.


How Do I Collect All the Child Support I’m Owed in Conroe, Texas?

Part of being a parent is providing support for your children. In Texas, when parents divorce or are otherwise separated, courts are tasked with determining the division of financial support for each parent. To that end, Texas law provides a framework by which non-custodial parents are ordered to pay child support to custodial parents.

But you need someone to prepare all the evidence and supporting documentation you’ll need, present your case to the court, advocate for you, secure a legally binding child support award, and support you every step of the way. You have rights; you need a Conroe child support attorney who knows how to turn those rights into the child support payments you deserve and upon which you can rely. This is precisely what the Ramos Law Group does.

This article provides some information on the fundamentals of child support in Texas and some guidance on how the process works in Conroe. Every case is different, and everyone’s circumstances are different. A conversation with an experienced child support lawyer is the best resource for the legal advice and support you need.

How Courts Determine Who Pays Child Support and How Much They Pay

In Texas, courts decide who pays child support as part of a divorce decree, paternity order, or other court order affecting the parent-child relationship. Additionally, courts must approve any child support agreement, modification, or back payment plan. This is a good thing because court orders make child support legally binding.

Usually, the parent who does not have primary physical custody of the child (the non-custodial parent) will pay child support to the parent with primary physical custody (the custodial parent). The court will examine both parents’ incomes and the time each parent spends with the child.

The courts will then determine the amount of child support to be paid monthly. This is calculated based on the primary consideration that child support is always in the best interest of the child. Texas uses specific guidelines to calculate child support.

In Texas, courts calculate child support based on the non-custodial parent’s net income and the number of children for whom they are responsible. Net income is take-home pay after taxes and other deductions. If your net monthly income is between $1,000 and $9,200, child support is calculated as follows:

  • One child—non-custodial parent pays 20% of their net income.
  • Two children—non-custodial parent pays 25% of net income.
  • Three children—non-custodial parent pays 30% of net income.
  • Four children—non-custodial parent pays 35% of net income.
  • Five or more children—non-custodial parent pays at least 40% of net income.

If the non-custodial parent’s net monthly income is less than $1,000, they will pay a lower percentage, ranging from 15% for one child to 35% for five or more children. Additionally, if the non-custodial parent’s net monthly income is greater than $9,200, the court has discretion to use the above guidelines or to increase the monthly support amount.

Judges in Texas also have discretion in adjusting the final amount of child support. Since every case and every family’s needs differ, the judge can consider other factors in determining the child support amount. Judges often consider any exceptional circumstances regarding the care and education of the child, the time the non-custodial parent expects to spend with the children, each parent’s contribution to other costs, and each parent’s total resources.

How Can I Change the Child Support Amount?

Circumstances can change between the time the court grants or approves a child support amount and the time the child turns 18, when child support traditionally stops. Under certain conditions and at either parent’s request, a court can modify the amount of a child support award. 

Circumstances which may prompt a child support adjustment include:

  • Change in income. If either parent’s income increases or decreases significantly, either parent can request a review of the existing arrangement and an appropriate change.
  • Change in needs. Significant changes in the child’s needs, like new and unanticipated education or medical expenses, can prompt child support modification.
  • Other significant change. A modification may be warranted if a parent becomes responsible for additional or fewer children or if a parent’s insurance or other benefits change significantly.
  • Three years/20%. Even without significant changes, a parent can request a modification if the current award was established or modified more than three years ago, and the modification would result in a change in support of 20% or more.

If you are seeking to increase child support or prevent your child’s other parent from obtaining a decrease in child support, you will want an experienced child custody lawyer to present your most persuasive case.

How Do I Get Unpaid Child Support?

If the non-custodial parent owes you child support, you must take specific steps to get them to pay you. An experienced Conroe child support enforcement attorney like ours at Ramos Law Group can assess your case and identify the best and quickest path to take.

Petition the Court

You can submit a motion for enforcement to our local Conroe court. To do this, you need to gather all the evidence to prove the missed payments. Courts will generally allow for evidence of the past four years. The court will schedule a hearing where both parties can present their cases.

Petition the Office of the Attorney General

You can also contact the Child Support Division of the Texas Attorney General’s Office (OAG). Provide all the details of your case and proof of the back child support you are owed. This division of the OAG has the tools and resources to search for the parent and take steps to enforce child support, like wage garnishment.

Why You Need Ramos Law Group

While navigating the child support process independently is possible, having a child support lawyer makes the process easier and ultimately more successful. Here’s why.

Professional Guidance

An experienced Conroe child support attorney can help you understand and adhere to all the rules and procedures accompanying child support laws. For example, many parents are inclined to withhold custody from parents who do not pay child support. This could lead to big trouble.

Representation and Advocacy

Our lawyers will use years of expertise to represent your interests and argue your case in court. Often the law makes people ask for the things to which they are entitled. We know what to ask for, how to ask for it, and how to ask for it effectively.


We are skilled negotiators who know Conroe’s legal ecosystem. We can often reach favorable agreements outside court, saving you time and money.

Administrative Tasks

We know how to collect and manage paperwork. Most importantly, we know what paperwork you need to maximize the child support. While advocacy is more than filing things on time, filing things on time is very important. Having an attorney on your side can help ensure that you don’t miss important deadlines.


We know this can be hard. We also know how to listen and offer support when you need it.  

Call Us to Get Started

It takes patience, determination, legal acumen, and assertiveness to get the child support you deserve. The attorneys at Ramos Law Group have cultivated all those skills and, in addition, know Conroe, Texas. Every step in the child support process is crucial. You need someone who can guide you through those steps. Your kids and their future are too important. Call us or contact us online today to schedule a consultation and learn more about how we can help you.

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Our Client Testimonials

Superb Law Firm

The decision to end my 25-year marriage was not an easy one, but hiring the Ramos Law Group was. From the initial consultation to the execution of the Divorce Decree everyone at the firm displayed the utmost professionalism and I was treated as if I was their only client. My attorney Lindsey, always provided precise legal guidance, was usually one step ahead of the opposing counsel, and had a superb understanding of how things would play out in the court room. Additionally, whenever my case needed a little extra horsepower, Mary provided that "surge" to keep things on track.

Worth Every Penny

"Ms. Ramos and her entire staff worked with professionalism and compassion to guide me through the most difficult time of my life and to an outcome that was best for my family and myself. Ramos Law is incredible and I highly, highly recommend their services."

Custody case won

"I was recommended to see Mary Ramos for my on coming custody case,it was the best thing I could've done honestly.The Ramos law group was quick with emailed responses and telephone calls,informative with ANY questions I had and they also took action with what they thought would work,which it did,I had money troubles and they were still willing to help they sent me with a younger lawyer Lindsey Lewis to help save some money and she was the best!She knew what she was doing and Mary was still on my case to make sure things went smoothly and to catch any details Lindsey and I might have missed.All in all I am a very satisfied client and if I ever needed a family lawyer again I would come back.My case was won as I received primary for my daughter which is exactly what I asked for.If you're willing to listen to what they have to say and follow their guidance they're definitely worth hiring.I thought I wanted sole custody for my daughter and they explained that wasn't in the best interest for her and honestly they were right,they speak to you on a professional level and also a real level of how things are actually going to work and what could happen if you take a certain action.They definitely care about their clients and make their own bond with you,you're not just money in their pockets you turn into family. "

Divorce Attorney

"I received excellent advice and representation from Ms. Lindsey Lewis. She kept me updated at every step of the process, and I never felt as if my case was set aside. I would hire The Ramos Law Group in the future. "

Highly recommend

"I started my divorce with a lawyer who was not very responsive. My divorce case was complicated and needed more laborious scrutiny. Since the case was not moving forward I had to switch lawyers. Made the switch to Ramos Law group. Since the very first day Mary and her team have been very efficient and meticulous. Since the case was complicated the team had to go through myriads of pages in discovery. I was pleased with the legal team that helped us handle the paperwork in a very timely manner. All my questions were answered very promptly. The relay of information was easy with their software system. We finally had a law firm that we could trust. My divorce was finalized and I only have Mary and her team to thank for going through a difficult divorce. I would highly recommend the Ramos law group for their help and support for getting my life back on track. "

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