A parent who is going through a divorce may be surprised to learn that the other parent has filed for child custody if this is something the two of them have not yet discussed. When this occurs, the parent might want to contact an attorney to explain Texas law regarding custody and divorce. Even if neither parent has filed yet, talking to an attorney with a background in family law may help a parent begin to prepare for what is ahead.

There are two different types of custody, legal and physical, and either may be sole or shared. Parents who have legal custody have the right to make major decisions for their child about such things as health care and education. Physical custody is about where the child will live. If one parent decides to move out of the area and the other parent does not consent, then the parents might have to return to court.

An attorney may help a parent gather any necessary documents and explain the parent’s rights and how the custody case will proceed. Parents do not always have to end up in litigation. Mediation, arbitration or other alternative dispute resolution methods may help them come to an agreement about child custody. If going to court is necessary, an attorney may explain what criteria a judge will use to make a decision.

There are a few situations that could complicate this process. For example, a parent who is concerned that the child is unsafe with the other parent because of abuse or neglect may want the child to only have supervised visitation with the other parent or no visitation at all. If one parent has ties in a foreign country, the other parent may be concerned that the child will be taken to that country. An attorney may help resolve these issues.