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Frisco family law attorneyDealing with a child custody dispute can be enormously stressful. After all, your child’s wellbeing could be on the line, and so, too, could your relationship with him or her. The conflict that’s present in one of these disputes can be exacerbated when one parent thinks that the other is intentionally trying to cut him or her out of the child’s life. In some instances, this could be considered parental alienation.

The Basics of Parental Alienation

In its most basic terms, parental alienation occurs when one parent actively manipulates a child in hopes of creating distance between that child and his or her other parent. Oftentimes this manipulation is aimed at obtaining a more restrictive child custody order that further cuts the other parent out of the child’s life.

What Does Parental Alienation Look Like?

The breadth and severity of parental alienation can be massive. It can be as simple as failing to keep the other parent apprised of the child’s activities and medical appointments, or it could be as severe as to program a child to believe that he or she was abused or neglected by the other parent. The latter is often achieved by creating false memories.

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There are many people living in Texas who are in the military. They provide a very valuable and honorable service to this country. In providing this service they make many sacrifices in their personal lives. They may be required to move to different bases in very different locations. They can also be deployed to other countries with relatively little notice. They also need to perform very difficult tasks under very difficult circumstances while they are deployed.

While they are deployed they are not able to bring their families with them and are forced to spend large amounts of time apart from family and loved ones. This can be very difficult for the servicemember and their family. It can also create a difficult situation for parents who are no longer with the other parent and have or need to have custody orders dictating when they will have their children in their care. These decisions are made based on the best interests of the children.

Factors military parents need to consider for custody

The fact that a parent is in the military does not mean that it is not in children’s best interest to be in their care, but due to the unique circumstances mentioned above, military parents need to consider those factors when developing parenting plans and custody arrangements. Parents will need to determine who will care for the children while they are gone. What will happen when they return from deployment, how they will communicate with the children during deployment and other factors.

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Child Protective Services in Texas is tasked with a big responsibility: keeping children safe. That’s why they’re required to investigate all allegations of abuse and neglect without much regard to the truthfulness of the initial claims. This can jeopardize your family integrity, which is why you need to be careful in how you interact with CPS and its employees. If you’re not, then your children could be taken from your care, which could have major implications for both your short- and long-term rights as a parent, as well as any outstanding custody cases you might have with your children’s other parent.

Things to consider when coming into contact with CPS

To successfully navigate your involvement with CPS, you need to keep a few things in mind. Let’s look at a few of them:

  • Your statements will be used against you: CPS cases oftentimes become child welfare cases where the State may try to present evidence against you in hopes of keeping a child out of your care and/or ensuring that the State can intervene in your life to provide you with certain services. Therefore, when interacting with CPS workers or law enforcement, try to keep your temperament in check and don’t be so quick to provide information. We know that coming into contact with the child welfare system can be stressful and nerve-wracking, but you don’t want to cause any self-inflicted harm to your family or your rights as a parent.
  • Know your rights: You have a lot of protections when it comes to involvement with CPS. For example, you children can’t be removed from your care without a court order or the assistance of law enforcement. Therefore, a CPS worker, on his or her own, can’t remove your children from your care. Also, CPS workers might ask you to provide a lot of information or even submit to a drug screen. During the investigation phase, you’re under no obligation to provide that information or submit to a drug screen. CPS also can’t interview your children without your consent or a court order. It’s helpful to be as cooperative as possible during these investigations, but, again, you don’t want to cause any avoidable harm to your family’s integrity.
  • You don’t have to navigate the process alone: The CPS and child welfare systems can seem confusing and stacked against you as a parent. The good news is that you don’t have to face the process alone. Instead, you can choose to obtain the assistance of an attorney who understands this area of the law and how to navigate with your parental rights in mind. This attorney can not only advocate for your best interests, but he or she can also serve as a buffer to a certain extent between you and CPS, which can make things a lot easier on your end.
  • CPS involvement can affect your custody case: Although CPS assessments and child welfare cases are separate from your divorce or paternity case, they can have major implications on pending custody matters. Therefore, you need to be cautious in your dealings with CPS and keep in mind the bigger picture of how your words and actions can affect your relationship with your child even after the State is out of your life.

Have experience on your side

Dealing with CPS and the juvenile courts is unlike any other part of the law. That’s why it’s helpful to have someone on your side who is experienced in navigating the system and can assist you in getting past whatever allegations you may be facing. One of these attorneys can help you not only work with CPS and the court as needed, but they can also help build the defense that you may end up needing to protect your rights as a parent and your children’s best interests.

The holiday season can be a stressful time for Texas parents who have recently divorced. Fortunately, there are steps that you can take to ensure that you and your former partner do what it takes to provide an enjoyable experience for your children.

Be prepared to compromise

There is a good chance that you might not be able to spend both Thanksgiving Day and Christmas morning with your child. Therefore, it may be a better idea to ask to spend either Thanksgiving Day or Christmas morning with your son or daughter when it comes time to create the holiday parenting plan. Ideally, the parenting plan will be created well in advance so that extended family members can include you in some or all of their festivities.

Focus on the events leading up to a holiday

You may be disappointed that you can't spend Christmas Day with your child. However, this doesn't mean that he or she can't come over to decorate the tree on a specific day or bake cookies for Santa before he makes his trip around the world. Furthermore, it's important to note that most kids don't really care when they get to open their presents. Therefore, you shouldn't feel like Christmas is ruined because your son or daughter opened a gift on the 18th or the 28th.

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Like most other states, Texas law allows you to have an active role in your child's life after a divorce. You and your son or daughter's other parent may be allowed to create the terms of a parenting plan that will govern how your child is raised. Working in good faith to create this plan can help to show your son or daughter that meeting his or her needs is your top priority.

Make sure that the plan is reasonable

It is important that you can manage to transport your child to school, to the other parent's house and to extracurricular activities with relative ease. If your child is used to spending time with a babysitter, that person should remain a part of your son or daughter's life. Depending on how old your child is, it may be worthwhile to solicit his or her input when crafting a parenting plan.

Remember that your child's needs outweigh yours

When crafting a custody or visitation plan, you should always remember that your child's needs are more important than what you want. Therefore, you shouldn't insist on a particular arrangement just because it is convenient for you or because you want to win the negotiation. In most cases, your former partner is also making sacrifices for the good of your child whether you recognize them or not.

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