Child Custody Lawyer

Child custody disputes are highly stressful. If handled improperly, you could lose custody rights that you are entitled to.

Our dedicated family law attorneys can stand by your side, shouldering the burden and ensuring that your child's best interests are met.

At The Family Law Firm of Donna J. Smiedt in Arlington, TX, our team of dedicated professionals works with you to achieve an optimal resolution.

Serving the Greater Dallas–Fort Worth Area
From Family Law Offices in Southlake and Arlington, TX

Don't fight alone. Contact The Family Law Firm of Donna J. Smiedt Today

Navigating the legal waters of a child custody case can be difficult and stressful. By hiring a lawyer, you can rest easier knowing our law firm will handle the complexities of your case and guide you through this difficult time in your life. Donna J. Smiedt has spent over 35 years in practice and has been a board-certified family law attorney since 1991. We pride ourselves on creating a relaxing atmosphere at our family law offices in Southlake and Arlington, and have therapy dogs on location to give you comfort. Call us today or request a consultation online.

(817) 572-9900

Donna J Smiedt

The Benefits of Working With a Child Custody Attorney

While it is possible to represent yourself in a child custody case, hiring a child custody lawyer is always recommended. The legal insight of a lawyer who regularly handles child custody issues can provide many benefits, including:
Woman stressed out at a laptop

Peace of Mind

Family law is complicated, especially issues of custody. You may find yourself doing hours and hours of internet research but still not be confident that you have a full grasp of the legal situation. When you hire a child custody lawyer, you may be able to sleep better at night. Working with an attorney ensures that every aspect of the case is being handled properly.

Legal document on child custody

Faster Results

Someone without formal legal training will almost certainly make some kind of error, whether on paperwork or in the courtroom. These mistakes can lead to frustrating and stressful delays in the dispute being resolved. In some cases, this can even affect your final outcome. For the most efficient possible resolution, enlist a child custody attorney.

Child holding teddy bear during tense parental discussion

Protection of Your Rights

The other parent might try to compromise your access to your child, especially if he or she has their own legal representation. To avoid receiving anything less than your full legal custody rights, it's important to have a lawyer by your side.

A Great Review For Our Arlington Law Office

"There is no possible way to plan for what challenges life can throw at you. When one of our grown children approached my wife and I needing guidance regarding a custody battle with our grandchild, I knew immediately who I was going to contact for advice. Already having a business-to-business relationship with Donna and her team, I had already been introduced to the knowledge, reputation and professionalism that this firm is so well known for. What I didn't know was how Donna and her team (Mr. Munoz, and Jennifer) would shift gears from our business relationship and really take a personal interest in resolving a very important family issue for our son. I find it SO REFRESHING when people/businesses deliver on the promises they make - not because they do business together - because they care about getting the right results in the most efficient manner possible. There are many Family Law Firm options out there and as many unique situations to resolve. In my opinion, there is only one team/firm I would trust with both -Thank You Team Smiedt!"
Scott D., 5-Star Google Review

What Influences A Judge's Custody Decision?

While Texas statutes and prior case law provide guidance for custody choices, judges still have wide discretion in determining conservatorship. If both parents are made conservators, the judge typically names one parent the primary joint managing conservator (the “custodial parent”). The custodial parent is the one that has the right to determine where the child lives and receives child support. All other decisions are typically made by both parents, unless otherwise spelled out in the conservatorship.

The child custody lawyers at The Family Law Firm of Donna J. Smiedt are familiar with what judges use to determine conservatorship and who is the custodial parent. We work closely with you, collecting evidence that will help persuade a judge that selecting you as the custodial parent will be in your child's best interests.

Aspects a judge typically considers include:

  • The ability of a parent to give first priority to the welfare of the child
  • Whether a parent can encourage and accept a healthy relationship with the other parent
  • How much a parent participated in a child's care before the split
  • Whether the physical, psychological, and emotional needs of the child benefit from a joint managing conservatorship
  • Incidences of neglect, abuse, and alcohol or drug dependency
  • The distance between the parents' homes
  • Each parent's financial stability
  • If the child is 12 or older, the judge may consider the child's preference in deciding where they prefer to live
  • Any other relevant factors

Why Hire Donna J. Smiedt?

Team at the Family Law Firm of Donna J. Smiedt


Whether you are working out the details of a recent divorce or remediating a previous child custody agreement, Donna J. Smiedt and her associates want to help you reach a just and fair arrangement that meets the best interests of your child. Our attorneys frequently handle child custody disputes and care deeply about the families they assist through these difficult times.

Donna J. Smiedt has been a Board Certified Family Law Attorney - Texas Board of Legal Specialization since 1991. She has practiced law in the Arlington and Southlake areas for more than 30 years, and in that time has built a respected family law practice.

What Sets Us Apart?

Unlike some other family lawyers, The Family Law Firm of Donna J. Smiedt is committed to the emotional well-being of our clients. In our minds, a "win" doesn't really count if parents and children come away from a custody dispute with traumatic memories and emotional scars. We take pride in handling every custody case as quickly, amicably, and fairly as possible.

Everyone at Ms. Smiedt's office strives to provide a relaxing, stress-free atmosphere. We love introducing clients to our office divorce therapy dog, Baxter. If you are looking for child custody lawyers who will handle your situation kindly while seeking a just resolution, look no further than The Family Law Firm of Donna J. Smiedt.

Another 5-Star Review For Our Arlington Attorney

"We hired Donna Smiedt to handle a very contentious child custody case in 2010. From the day we signed on to have Donna represent us we have received excellent representation and results. Donna has represented us well and listened to all of our needs and requests. Donna was professional and reassured us that our case would be taken care of. My wife and I can not say enough good things about Donna and her personal attention to a stressful matter. We highly recommend to anyone going through a divorce or considering divorce. You won't find a better family attorney than Donna Smiedt." Ed M., 5-Star Google Review

Call Us Today For Answers to Your Custody Questions

Without an attorney, the best interests of your child may be in jeopardy. Reach out today to make certain that your rights–and your child's future–are protected while going through a divorce or informal separation.

The Family Law Firm of Donna J. Smiedt in Arlington and Southlake, TX, can help you reach a custody solution that serves your child's best interests.

Schedule a legal consultation by contacting us online or by calling our office at:

(817) 572-9900

The Family Law Firm of Donna J Smiedt office building
Our Arlington, TX, law office is also convenient to Westover Hills and other Tarrant County communities.

Avoid the Courtroom:

Custody Agreements Through Mediation

There is an alternative to lengthy and confusing custody disputes handled by the court. Mediation with Donna J. Smiedt and her team allows parents to reach a custody agreement amicably and quicker than traditional litigation, especially if the parents are on good terms. In addition, mediation is usually much cheaper than going through the courts.

During mediation, the two parents, their attorneys (if they have them), and a mediator meet in a neutral location to negotiate a custody agreement. The lawyers at Donna J. Smiedt's firm can work as a parent's attorney or as a mediator. These meetings offer opportunities for parents and their representation to work out a custody plan that meets their child's best interests.

Child Custody in Texas: Quick Facts

Donna J. Smiedt and her associates are proud members of the Tarrant County legal community and have served clients from Arlington, Southlake, Westover Hills, and the Greater Dallas and Fort Worth Area area for decades. Before beginning your child custody negotiation, here are some facts about child custody in Texas you may find useful:

  • In Texas, child custody is legally referred to as "conservatorship."
  • The default position of Texas is to name the divorced parents joint managing conservators, but the well-being of the child is always the court's top priority. To argue for a court-ordered arrangement other than joint managing conservatorship, the assistance of a child custody lawyer is particularly valuable.
  • Joint managing conservatorship is not the same as shared custody. In typical joint managing conservatorship arrangements, one parent has primary physical custody of the child while the other parent has visitation rights (possession and access). Both parents have equal say in decision-making regarding the child, such as education, religious upbringing, extracurricular activities, etc.
  • Judges in Texas are required to consider evidence of domestic abuse when handling a custody case.
  • In some circumstances, especially those involving parental neglect, third parties can sue for custody of the child. Donna J. Smiedt and her team also assist third parties, especially grandparents, with custody cases.

Do You Have a Complex Case?

We Specialize in Difficult Child Custody Cases

Donna J. Smiedt focuses on complex family law cases, including child custody. She has practiced law since 1986 and has been a board-certified family law attorney since 1991.

Her familiarity with the state child custody laws, the Texas legal system, and local judges are a boon when it comes to presenting your case to the court. In addition to crafting a sound legal strategy, The Family Law Firm of Donna J. Smiedt also makes a point of creating a calming environment that will help you make thoughtful decisions.

If you have questions about your next steps, leave us a message online or request a consultation by phone:

(817) 572-9900

Another Rave Review For Our Arlington Attorney and Law Office

"I’ve hired Donna and her team for multiple child custody cases. She’s been nothing but kind, caring, honest, and professional during these extremely emotional and stressful times in my life. She always makes me feel like I’m her only client, and puts me at ease with her abilities and knowledge of the law. She’s won every case for me and I don’t know what I would have done without her and excellent team of paralegals and attorneys. She definitely gets the job done and more!! I highly recommend her for any family law issues." Lindsey H., 5-Star Google Review

When to Hire a Child Custody Attorney

Legal aid is always recommended during a child custody situation. However, acquiring the assistance of a qualified child custody lawyer may be especially important in certain cases:

New Divorce

If you and your spouse share children and are divorcing, the most important agreement that will be reached is the child custody agreement. Getting the custody arrangement right the first time can save serious headaches and heartaches in the future. Having an attorney's assistance is especially important if you plan on pursuing an arrangement other than Texas's default custody decision (joint managing conservatorship).

Learn More About the Divorce Process

Interstate Custody Arrangements

Custody disputes become even more complicated when the two parents live in different states. Whether the parents lived in different states at the time of separation or one moved away after, the legal maze created by such a situation is difficult to navigate. Donna J. Smiedt and her team can handle these situations and will work with you to reach a beneficial solution.

Learn More About Interstate Child Custody

Changing Circumstances

Previous conservatorship agreements may require modification if the circumstances of the parents or children change. Possible changes include one parent remarrying, a change in employment status, a medical health issue, or unexpected financial hardship. In these situations, your custody agreement may no longer serve the best interests of your child. A child custody lawyer can help amend it.

Learn More About Child Custody Modification

Parental Conduct Issues

If you are concerned that the behavior of your co-parent is irresponsible, illegal, or harmful to your child in any way (especially in the case of abuse), a child custody attorney can help you gain primary or even full physical custody of your child. The family court system in Texas takes child abuse very seriously. A lawyer can help you quickly get your child to safety–immediately and in the long-term.

Contact Us to Discuss the Safety of Your Child

Let Us Help You...

Custody negotiations are rarely easy. If you are going through a complicated divorce or contentious disputes over visitation, possession, and access to your child, the difficulties may be compounded.

The Family Law Firm of Donna J. Smiedt wants to help you find the best situation for your child. Whether you are outlining your first child custody arrangement or need to amend an existing one, let us make the situation a little easier for you.

If you live in Arlington, Southlake, or Westover Hills, TX, we encourage you to contact us online or schedule a consultation by calling:

(817) 572-9900

Kind Words for Donna J. Smiedt And Our Child Custody Law Office in Arlington

"I have known Donna since 2006 and am beyond grateful to have had her on my side. She is considerate, confident, and truly a loving person. My journey with her has led her to become a genuine friend of mine and I would highly recommend her to anyone! She will listen to your needs and pour her heart into being an advocate for you. She is unlike any other lawyer and will be real with you and take care of business. She excels at what she does and has a passion for winning for all of her clients."
Tony H., 5-Star Google Review

Child Custody and Military Parents

Being in the military can make family law matters even more difficult. Texas law has special stipulations to help military parents navigate their service obligations as well as custody arrangements. Our Arlington team proudly helps military parents throughout Southlake, Westover Hills, and the Greater Dallas and Fort Worth area with child custody issues.

Custodial Parents Deploying for Military Service

If you are the custodial parent and deploying for military service, you may ask the courts to designate another person as the custodian while you are deployed. This can be the non-custodial parent, a grandparent, a close friend, or another relative, depending on your situation. If the courts determine the non-custodial parent is not fit to take on the role of the custodial parent, or if the person you designate is deemed unfit, the courts may appoint someone for you.

Non-Custodial Military Parents and Visitation

If you are the non-custodial parent and deploying for military service, you may ask the courts to designate another parent to fulfill your visitation time. You may also ask the courts to designate make-up visitation times for when you return from your deployment or temporary military duty. This will be determined based on the best interests of the child. This request may be made to the courts up to 90 days following the end of your deployment or temporary military duty.

Exploring a Collaborative Approach To Child Custody Arrangements

Child custody negotiations do not have to be contentious, especially when you have Donna J. Smiedt as your legal advocate. In addition to her background in mediation, Ms. Smiedt also has deep experience applying a collaborative law approach to family law cases, and she can do the same to ease the process in your child custody case if you choose to work with our Arlington law firm.

Collaborative family law is a form of alternative dispute resolution intended to help involved parties reach an agreeable outcome without taking the case to court. It is most commonly applied to divorce, but it can be used to ease the process in a variety of family law areas, such as child custody and support. In this scenario, you and Ms. Smiedt will meet with your ex and their counsel for a series of private, four-way meetings in a neutral setting.

Children's Interests Come First

In Collaborative Law

Taking a collaborative path allows parents to step away from the charged nature of the courtroom and keep their children's best interests front and center. It lends to more in-depth consideration of your family's unique circumstances, like work and school schedules, medical needs, housing arrangements, and more. Because this is a private avenue of resolution, any sensitive personal or financial information regarding your family will remain confidential.

Quicker Path to Resolution

Collaborative cases usually reach a point of resolution after four to six meetings spread over several months—this process can be much faster than the average custody resolution experience through the court. This collaborative schedule is customizable to accommodate extenuating circumstances in a non-adversarial manner. The streamlined nature of the collaborative custody process also tends to make this avenue more cost-effective than litigating custody in a drawn-out court battle.

Better Adherence to Terms

Because both parents and their family law attorneys take an active role in the negotiations, both sides can reach a resolution in their favor. Our law firm finds that there is better long-term adherence to custody and child support plans created in the spirit of cooperation. If a situation arises in which you or your ex must modify your family law arrangement, you can start from a place of good faith and honesty by choosing a collaborative angle.

Unmarried Fathers Face Disadvantages Our Family Law Attorney Can Help You Overcome Them

When an unmarried couple with a child separates in Texas, the mother automatically receives full physical custody and legal custody. The father's rights can be seriously limited, even if his name is on the birth certificate. Our family law attorney in Arlington takes an unbiased approach to custody disputes and understands that there are many situations in which a child's best interests are served by being in the custody of their father instead. Donna J. Smiedt is prepared to help you get fair rights to your children, whether you are are going through a divorce from your child's mother or you were never married at all.

Ms. Smiedt can help you establish paternity, if necessary, and submit a court order to begin the process of establishing your physical and/or legal custody rights. She can also help you explore a collaborative resolution if your ex is amenable. Contact our law firm in Arlington, TX, for a thorough review of your legal options from a board-certified family law attorney.

(817) 572-9900

A Father's Testimonial

"The entire team at The Family Law Firm was excellent in every aspect of my custody case. Donna J Smiedt was fantastic. Everyone was extremely helpful and professional throughout the entire process. Their preparation and dedication to my case was outstanding. I have and will continue to refer anyone going through a challenging situation to speak with Donna and her team." Niranjan A., 5-Star Google Review

Child Custody in Texas: Glossary of Terms

  • Conservatorship: The legal term for "custody" in Texas, describing your court-ordered relationship with your child.
  • Joint Managing Conservator: When two parents are named joint managing conservators, the child primarily resides with one parent while the other parent has visitation rights. Both parents have equal say in major decisions.
  • Custodial Parent: The parent with whom the child lives in the case of a joint managing conservatorship.
  • Non-Custodial Parent: The parent who has visitation rights but with whom the child does not primarily live.
  • Sole Managing Conservator: If a parent (or even a non-parent) is named sole managing conservator, they have exclusive decision-making rights over the child.

  • Possessory Conservator: If one parent is a sole managing conservator, then the other parent may be a possessory conservator, who can still enjoy a relationship with the child but does not have the final say in decision-making for the child.
  • Custody Order: A court order from a Texas state judge that declares where the child will live, who has decision-making power for the child, who has visitation rights, and other specifics of the custody arrangement.
  • Visitation: The court-ordered plan that outlines when a non-custodial parent can spend time with their child.
  • Child Support: Court-ordered payments made by the non-custodial parent to the custodial parent to assist in raising the child.

Our Arlington Team Protects The Interests of the Child

"Donna has represented my son in a child custody case and my wife and I in a grandparents custody case and she has done a masterful job. I don't know where my grandchildren would be without Donna. She has given them a chance to have a much better life and a chance to be loved and grow into well rounded adults. Donna is a very caring person that really looks out for the benefit of children and her clients." Jerry J., 5-Star Google Review
the team at The Family Law Firm of Donna J Smiedt

The Family Law Firm of Donna J Smiedt

The Family Law Firm of Donna J Smiedt is the premier destination for clients who need representation during a divorce, adoption, or other family law matters. Donna J. Smiedt has been in practice since 1986 and is a Board Certified Family Law Attorney – Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Her other professional affiliations include:

  • Texas Bar College
  • Arlington Bar Association
  • Tarrant County Bar Association
  • Texas Academy of Family Law Specialists

To schedule a consultation at our Arlington or Southlake, TX, law firm, contact us online or call (817) 572-9900.

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