Thank you for your question.
In Texas, there is a rebutable presumption that parents should serve as the Joint Managing Conservators of their children. In Texas, "Conservatorship" is "Custody" of the children, and the entire regime about the child(ren) is now called a "Parenting Plan."
Joint Managing Conservatorship does not mean that each party will have the children one-half of the time. It also does not mean that child support will not be awarded to one parent. Joint Managing Conservatorship does mean that the parents will either share, allocate, or apportion parental rights and duties. These are the same parental rights and duties that the parents have prior to a divorce being filed; they just may be allocated differently in the divorce -instead of parenting together, each parent will eventually have their own residence.
A social study will involve the completion of informational data, gathering of references, and an interview in their offices and/or home. A recommendation on conservatorship will be made to the Court at the conclusion of their investigation. The Court may also order psychological evaluations of one or both parties and/or the children. Additionally, a party may wish to retain psychiatrists, psychologists, or private custody evaluators. If 12 years of age or older, a child can sign an affidavit stating whom the child would prefer to live with. If requested by a party, the Court will interview a child 10 years of age or older. Neither the affidavit nor the information from the interview is binding on the court, and the court will always use tlook to do what is in the "best interest" of the children in making any decisions.
Obviously, I do not know your situation, however, it is highly unlikely that you would lose custody of your children, at least entirely. The court does not want to cut a child off from either parent, and does so only in the most extreme cases. Now, a study can say that the children would be better off with the father being the primary custodial parent, and the children can even say they want to live with him, but none of this is binding; all of it is evidence that the court will consider, ultimately doing what it feels is best for the children.
It also sounds like you have a lot of positive factors going for you -you have been the primary caregiver for more than a decade, and a court will be reluctant to change that. You have returned to college and are looking to better yourself and to get a career that will support you and your children. And of course, your husband had an affair, and what impact did that have on the marriage and the children?
Ideally, since custody battles can be long and drawn out, it is best if the parties can reach an agreement on custody and visitation, but if they can't, rest assured that you need not panic at the thought of a social study.
Hope that helps.
Good luck to you. If you have any additional questions, please press the reply button, and I will be happy to assist you further.
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Ah-your additional information just came up now. This site does that sometimes -we can't always see the additional information until you reply.
I feel your frustration with Legal Aid. All I can tell you is they are competent attorneys, but they have a tremendous caseload. So, they will always be at a disadvantage versus a private attorney in that sense, because a private attorney can pick and choose their cases. Believe me when I say when there are custody issues at stake, you are better off having some representation versus none.
I don't see the depression as much of factor either, UNLESS he can show that it affects how you care for the children and that they are at risk as a result. I also don't know how old you are now, but an episode from when you were a teenager, before you had kids, is hardly relevant to the case now.
As for the social study, from my research, it appears that these are becoming routine in Texas now? I can't speak to that, as I practice in Florida. I would agree with you that even if the person doing the study quit over money, if she felt you were a danger to yourself or the children, at the very least as a professional, if not also as a person, she would be obligated to report that to someone. I don't think she would just quit because she couldn't find the information she was looking for -she's supposed to be impartial in her reporting to the court, but perhaps your husband's attorney didn't like what she was telling him. It's hard to even guess with knowing only a small piece of the story.
One other thought, if the court didn't order the study done, and your husband hired this person on their own, then yes, I agree there too, that you aren't obligated to pay for it or pay for half of it.
Hope this helps. I wish you well.
I'm only showing the one accept, so you accepted the one time as far as I can tell (and thank you, XXXXX XXXXX much appreciated). You don't have to accept each reply answer if you don't want to -I just put that standard language along with my disclaimer in everything.
Did you open another question, however? It says you have an open question. If you did, and you put a deposit down, then it charged you for the deposit -but I will look for that question now, and see if I can have a moderator close it out and refund your money.
Sending this answer through, but do not accept the answer or reply further.
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