Hays County Child Custody Attorneys

Helping Parents Advocate for Their Rights

Child custody is often one of the most contentious issues in a divorce or separation. At Cofer & Connelly, PLLC, we understand how important your children are to you and how much you want to protect their best interests. Our child custody lawyers in Hays County, TX can guide you through the complex process and work to help you reach a favorable custody agreement with your child's other parent. If a resolution cannot be reached, we are prepared to take your case to court and fight for the best interests of your children.

For an initial consultation with our Hays County child custody attorneys, call (512) 991-0576 or contact us online.

Texas Child Custody Laws

Like many other states, Texas does not use the terms "custody" or "visitation" when referring to the care of children after a divorce or separation. Instead, the state uses the terms "conservatorship," "possession," and "access."


Conservatorship refers to the right to make important decisions on behalf of the child, such as those regarding education, religion, and medical care. A person with conservatorship is often referred to as a "custodial parent" and has the right to have the child live with him or her. 

In Texas, there are two types of conservatorship:

  • Joint managing conservatorship (JMC) — Both parents share the rights and duties of raising the child, but one parent will be the primary custodian who has the right to determine the child's primary residence.
  • Sole managing conservatorship (SMC) — One parent has the right to make most of the decisions regarding the child, while the other parent has limited rights and duties.

Possession and Access

Possession and access refer to the time each parent spends with the child. In Texas, standard possession orders are the norm and provide for the non-custodial parent to have the child on the first, third, and fifth weekends of each month, as well as on Thursdays during the school year. The parents can agree to a different schedule, and the court can order a different schedule if it is in the best interest of the child.

What Is the Standard Possession Order?

The Standard Possession Order (SPO) is the default visitation schedule in Texas. It sets forth the terms of possession and access for the non-custodial parent and is based on a schedule that was determined to be in the best interests of the child by the Texas legislature. 

How Custody Is Decided in Texas

When parents are married and have a child together, they usually have equal rights to custody and visitation. When parents are unmarried, the mother is generally awarded custody and the father is required to establish paternity in order to seek custody or visitation. However, an unmarried father can establish his rights by signing an Acknowledgment of Paternity form at the time of the child's birth or by filing a petition in the appropriate Texas court.

In Texas, the court's primary focus in a custody case is the best interest of the child. The court will consider several factors when making a custody determination, including the following:

  • The child's age and needs
  • Each parent's ability to provide for the child's needs
  • The child's preferences, if the child is old enough to express a preference
  • Each parent's physical and mental health
  • Each parent's lifestyle and stability
  • Each parent's ability to cooperate with the other parent
  • Each parent's ability to support a positive relationship between the child and the other parent

Unless there is a reason not to, the court will try to ensure that the child will have frequent contact with both parents. However, if there is evidence that the child's safety or well-being would be at risk, the court can award custody to one parent.

How to Modify a Child Custody Agreement

A child custody agreement can be modified if there has been a material and substantial change in the circumstances of the child or one of the parents and the modification would be in the best interests of the child. The modification must be requested by the child's parent or another person who has physical custody of the child.

If the child's parents have joint managing conservatorship, the agreement can only be modified if the modification is necessary because the child's present circumstances would significantly impair the child's physical health or emotional development.

Common reasons to request a custody modification include:

  • A substantial and material change in circumstances
  • The child's preference (over the age of 12)
  • Endangerment/unsuitable environment
  • Abuse or neglect of the child
  • Voluntary relinquishment

If you believe that a modification of a child custody agreement is necessary, you should consult an experienced child custody lawyer in Hays County as soon as possible. A lawyer can help you understand your rights and options and represent your interests in court.

If you need help with a custody case in Hays County, TX, get in touch with our team at Cofer & Connelly today at (512) 991-0576.

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