Although children do best with both parents deeply involved in their lives, in some cases, one parent must pursue full custody rights when such an arrangement benefits the child’s best interests. Because the law prefers having both parents involved in a child’s life, courts will grant full custody only under specific grounds, such as when minimizing a parent’s involvement in their child’s upbringing or minimizing parenting time serves the child’s best interests.

One parent might seek to terminate the other parent’s rights in extreme cases involving abuse, neglect, or abandonment. Knowledgeable legal counsel can help a parent improve their chances of successfully obtaining full custody when a family’s situation makes it necessary.

When you decide to pursue full custody of your child, a seasoned Dallas family law attorney can advocate for your and your children’s rights. Contact Balekian Hayes, PLLC, for an initial case evaluation to learn how our firm can guide you and your family through the child custody process.

What Is Full Custody?

Full custody refers to a custody arrangement where one parent has exclusive decision-making authority over their child’s needs, including residence, healthcare, education, and religious or moral upbringing. In a full custody arrangement, the other parent has no say in their child’s upbringing.

Full custody may involve the parent who has exclusive decision-making authority spending all parenting time with the child to the exclusion of the other parent. However, in a full custody arrangement, the parent without decision-making authority may have the right to enjoy visitation time with their child. That parent must adhere to limits on where they can go or what they can do during visitation time, subject to the custodial parent’s exclusive decision-making authority.

Conversely, in a joint custody arrangement, parents must collaborate to agree upon child upbringing decisions.

What Is the Difference Between Sole Custody and Full Custody?

Texas law does not recognize the term “full custody.” Instead, the law uses the term “sole managing conservatorship” to refer to one parent exercising exclusive decision-making authority over their child. Some people use the term “full custody” to refer to an arrangement where a parent has exclusive decision-making authority and is the parent of primary residence. Others use the term “sole custody” for an arrangement where a parent has exclusive decision-making authority, and the child lives with them, but the other parent has no visitation or custody. Others use the term “full custody” to refer to arrangements where the non-custodial parent has no decision-making or visitation rights or has relinquished or terminated their parental rights.

How Can I Get Full Custody of My Child?

Child custody involves two types of custody: physical custody, called “possessory conservatorship” in Texas, and legal custody, called “managing conservatorship.” Physical custody refers to which parent the child lives with, while legal custody involves the right to make decisions for the child’s upbringing. Parents may share legal and physical custody, although one parent will serve as the “parent of primary residence” to determine the child’s public school enrollment, receipt of tax benefits, and other matters.

If you want full custody of your child, whether that means simply having exclusive decision-making authority over your child or barring your child’s other parent from any parenting time or visitation, you should know that obtaining full custody can be a complex endeavor. Courts strongly prefer involving both parents in a child’s life and upbringing. A court will award full custody to one parent only when the court finds that excluding the other parent from the child’s life will serve the child’s best interests. Courts will not award sole custody in Texas simply because one parent finds it challenging to co-parent unless conflict between the parents negatively affects their child’s best interests.

To obtain full custody of your child, you must file a petition to modify custody to grant yourself sole managing or possessory conservatorship. Alternatively, if you wish to permanently bar your child’s other parent from any parenting rights, you can file a petition to terminate your child’s other parent’s parental rights.

Modifying custody to grant yourself sole managing or possessory conservatorship will require you to prove that sole custody will serve your child’s best interests. A court may find sole custody necessary in cases where a parent has engaged in domestic violence or child abuse, consistently exhibited poor judgment in parenting, or has a history of refusing to cooperate in good faith in making decisions for a child’s upbringing.

However, terminating your child’s other parent’s parental rights has a much higher burden of proof. Texas will permanently sever a parent-child relationship only in the direst circumstances. To obtain termination of parental rights, you must prove that your child’s other parent engaged in one of the grounds for termination, such as abandonment, endangerment, neglect, child abuse, or substance abuse.

How Can a Family Law Attorney Help Me Get Full Custody?

Children thrive when they have both parents involved in their upbringing. However, at Balekian Hayes, PLLC, we recognize that certain situations may require you to seek full custody of your child. When getting full custody will help you protect your child’s best interest, our family law attorneys can guide you through the legal process to secure custody by:

Discussing your legal options with you and preparing you for what to expect during the petition process
Gathering evidence and witness testimony to support your claim for full custody, such as police reports, emails, voicemails, and testimony from family members, friends, and neighbors
Drafting and filing your custody or termination petition
Vigorously advocating on your behalf in court to persuasively show how granting you full custody will serve your child’s best interests
Filing enforcement petitions when necessary to ensure your co-parent’s compliance with the custody order

Contact a Child Custody Lawyer at Balekian Hayes, PLLC, to Learn More About Full Custody

If you have questions about how child custody works or want to seek full custody of your child in Texas, turn to Balekian Hayes, PLLC, for legal help. Contact our firm today for a confidential consultation to discuss your legal options with an experienced child custody attorney.