Few issues within a divorce have more potential to turn an amicable divorce into an adversarial battle than the issue of custody of the minor children The divorce process is emotionally, practically, and financially exhausting even if the parties both work together to reach a mutually agreeable Marital Settlement Agreement. Unfortunately, the nature and purpose of the divorce process means that an amicable resolution process is the exception to the norm. This is particularly true when custody, or conservatorship as it is referred to in Texas, is contested. If you and your spouse are both vying for custody of your minor child, the court may order a home study. An Allen child custody attorney explains what to expect and how to prepare for a home study.
When the parents of a minor child divorce, important decisions relating to the child must be made during the divorce process. Conservatorship of the child is one of those issues. In Texas, the term “conservatorship” is used instead of “custody” and refers to the parent’s right to make important decisions relating to the child, such as where the child will attend school and what medical treatment the child will receive, and with whom the child shall live most of the time. Conservatorship can be sole or joint. If you are awarded sole managing conservatorship it means that you alone get to make those important decisions. Conversely, if you share joint managing conservatorship of your child with the other parent it means that you both have the legal right to make important decisions relating to your child. Possessory conservatorship refers to your rights to possession of or access to the child.
During the divorce, the issue of conservatorship of your minor child must be resolved. If both you and your spouse wish to be your child’s conservator, the court will need to decide who prevails. In order to make its decision, the court may consider a wide range of factors. In addition, the court has the option to order a home study for both parents to give the court additional information presented by a neutral third party. A home study offers the court a glimpse into the home life of both parents along with additional information about the parent-child relationship and the overall family dynamics. A home study may be conducted by a therapist, a psychologist, or a social worker, all of whom have been trained and/or experience in the purpose of a home study and how to conduct one to provide the court with the most relevant information.
After the court orders the home study you will likely be required to fill out a questionnaire that is designed to tell the evaluator about your background, your marriage, and how you parent your child. Always consult with your divorce attorney before filling out the questionnaire because every answer will be scrutinized by the evaluator. You may also be asked to gather some relevant documents such as medical and school records for submission to the court as well. An interview with the evaluator will also be scheduled along with an actual home visit in most cases. During the interview, the evaluator will ask you additional questions to clarify or expand on the answers you provided in the questionnaire. The home visit is an opportunity for the evaluator to check where the child will be living and how the family interacts with one another. Try not to be too intimidated by the home visit. The evaluator is not expecting your home to be showroom perfect. Instead, the evaluator simply wants to be sure that you have adequate room for your child, basic necessities in the home, and to observe the family dynamics.
If you have additional questions or concerns about how to prepare for a home study, contact an experienced Allen child custody attorney at The Law Office of Jon R. Boyd to schedule your appointment today.