A parent may file a Petition in Suit Affecting Parent Child Relationship and request the court to make orders for conservatorship, possession, and access. If a father has not been adjudicated the parent, he may file a Petition to Adjudicate Parentage and ask that the court recognize he is the father of the child, and provide for conservatorship, possession, and access.
Conservatorship is the determination of rights and duties of parents. If parents are appointed joint managing conservators, each parent has equal rights with regards to health, educational, moral, and financial decisions. One parent will be named the joint managing conservator with the exclusive right to designate the primary residence and exclusive right to receive child support payments. If one parent is appointed sole managing conservator and the other is appointed possessory conservator, the sole managing conservator has the decision making authority over the child with little to no input from the other parent.
Parents can agree on Possession and Access. If parents cannot agree, courts may implement the Texas Standard Possession Order which allows the non-custodial parent to have possession of the child about 46% of the time. Typically, the non-custodial parent will have the child every first, third, and fifth weekend of the month, time during the week, and alternating holidays. Courts will not order standard possession when there are issues of family violence or drug abuse.
Each parent has the duty to support the child. The amount of child support a parent must pay is largely defined by the Texas Child Support guidelines. Child support is determined by set guidelines in the Texas Family Code, but it may be adjusted if application of the guidelines would not be in the best interest of the child.
Sometimes circumstances change, including lost or decreased wages, relocation, increased abuse of alcohol or drugs, and child neglect. These changed circumstances may require modifications to child support, child custody, conservatorship, and visitation. All modifications should be recognized by the court to avoid potential conflicts.
When you have a final court order but the other party is not obeying it, you may need to file a Motion for Enforcement. This motion may be filed to ask the Court to hold the other party in contempt. If the court finds that a party violated a court order, the court may impose fines, jail time, and order payment of attorney's fees for the violation(s).