BACK TO BLOG May 29, 2019

Custody Agreements for Oil Field Workers

Many East Texans work in the oil fields. These jobs are grueling, hard work and usually come with difficult hours. And although the pay can be good, the lifestyle can complicate things at home. When one of the parents is gone 2-3 weeks of a month, it is not uncommon for marital complications to occur.

Divorce should always be the last option. But, if it comes to a point where a divorce occurs, custody of children can become problematic for oil field workers. Some things a court has to consider when dealing with oil field worker custody are:

  1. Distance between home and work;
  2. School choice
  3. Who has handled the primary parenting responsibilities, and
  4. Income inequalities.

When it comes to custody, though, remember:

Oil Field Workers Do Not Have to Give Up Custody.

Just because someone works on an oil rig or out in the oilfield does not mean that the parent automatically must give up all their time with their children. What it does mean, however, is that the parents must plan ahead.

Tips for Oil Field Worker Custody Agreements:

Tip 1: Be detailed.

One of the best custody orders you can create is one that does not require court intervention later. Think of all of the contingencies…

  • How are we going to communicate?
  • Where are we going to meet?
  • When are we going to meet?
  • Who pays for what relating to the kids?
  • How do I stay informed of my kid’s health and school?

The more detail divorce attorney includes, the less likely there will be conflict and further litigation.

Tip 2: Be flexible.

As an oilfield worker, your job is subject to change. If your family is in Tyler and you are in West Texas or South Texas, a lot can happen in a short amount of time. The more rigid you are in your requirements, the more likely it is that one or both parents are going to fail in meeting all of the requirements.

Include contingency plans in the order if you can. But, remember that a custody order is a “fallback” plan. One of the provisions in every custody order states that the parents can agree to whatever agreements they want. The language in the custody order is merely what the court orders the parties to do if they cannot agree among themselves.

Tip 3: Modification May be Necessary

Some parents cannot agree on the color of the sky. So, alternative agreements may not be possible. But, being flexible with the other parent will allow for some of the surprises that come with being an oilfield worker.

If schedules change, employers change, or income and benefits change, modification may be necessary. Filing a modification in Tyler family court can be costly and stressful.

Tip 4: Include options for video and phone calls

Exercising visitation is a must! If it is your turn with the children and you do not get the kids, you are telling the court that you do not care or that you do not intend on upholding your responsibilities as a parent. Sometimes that is difficult. One way to assure that your children remain involved in your life and to assure that your children know you care about their lives is through video and phone calls. Apps on your cell phone or tablets, such as Skype or FaceTime, are great ways to communicate with your kids.

Including provisions in your Texas custody agreement that assures reasonable opportunities for electronic communication is great way to continue the relationship with your kids, even if you are away for weeks at a time.

Tip 5: Be Creative

Not all Texas custody orders are created equal. What works for one family will not work for another. If there is a reasonable expectation that a schedule will change, address it in the order. Come up with a way that allows one or both parties to change the schedule without requiring both sides to have to file a modification suit in Tyler or to seek court intervention. Include mediation or alternative dispute resolution provisions in your custody agreement.

Even if your family is in Tyler or East Texas and you are working in West Texas or on a rig, you still have rights. A Tyler family lawyer can help you walk through your options.