Child Custody

Child Custody issues are very difficult not just on the parents, but on the children as well. One or both parents may use the children as a “tool” to hurt the other parent, but it really hurts the children. Parents need to remember that the Court does not care about the feelings of the parent, but rather the best interest of the child. In many situations, it is in the best interest of the child to have BOTH parents involved in their life.

A Gavel Laying On Wooden Blocks That Spell Child Custody

Child Custody In Texas

In discussing custody of your children, there are a few terms you should be familiar with and understand their meaning:

  • Joint Managing Conservatorship – This refers to the rights and duties of the parents. Typically in a joint managing conservatorship, both parents have equal responsibilities and duties of care for the children. There are some rights the parents may have exclusively, jointly, or independently. In addition, typically one parent is given the exclusive right to determine the residence of the child. The other parent will have an established visitation schedule. Do not confuse joint managing conservatorship with 50/50 custody.
  • Sole Managing Conservatorship – Similar to Joint Managing Conservator, both parents are given rights and duties to the children, but the parent appointed as Sole Managing Conservator is granted a list of exclusive rights, including, but not limited to, the exclusive right to determine the primary residence, the exclusive right to consent to medical, dental, and invasive surgical procedures f, and the exclusive right to consent to marriage or enlistment in the armed services.
  • 50/50 Custody – This actually goes by various terms and is sometimes referred to as equal possession, shared custody, or joint custody. In Texas, unless the parents agree to the terms of a joint or equal possession and visitation schedule, many judges are hesitant to award a 50/50 possession schedule.
  • Standard Possession Order – This refers to the Texas Family Code’s standard visitation schedule which consists of the 1st, 3rd, and 5th weekend of each month and includes weekly visits during the school year and holiday schedules. There is a set schedule for parents that reside less than 100 miles apart and another for those who reside more than 100 miles apart.  
  • Expanded Standard Possession Order – The standard possession order with expanded periods of possession. Typically this schedule allows a parent to pick-up their children after school or at a designated time on a Thursday, and keep the children overnight until the next school morning during the school year. There are other provisions included as well.

Joint Managing Conservatorship

There is a presumption in Texas that it is in the best interest of a child to appoint the parents as joint managing conservators. This means both parents will each have the following rights and duties:

  • the right to receive information and to confer with the other parent concerning the health, education, and welfare;
  • the right to access to medical, dental, psychological, and educational records and to consult with physicians, dentists, or psychologists of the children;
  • the right to consult with school officials or attend school activities;
  • the right to be named as a person to be notified in emergency;
  • the right to consent to medical, dental, and surgical treatment during an emergency;
  • the right to manage the estates of the children to the extent the estates have been created by the parent or the parent’s family;
  • the duty to inform the other parent of significant information concerning the health, education, and welfare of the children;
  • the duty to inform the other parent regarding certain areas, such as the parent living with a registered sex offender, persons who have protective orders against them, among other duties.

Each parent will also have other duties specifically while the children are in their possession, including:

  • the duty of care, control, protection, and reasonable discipline of the children;
  • the duty to support the children, including providing the children with clothing, food, shelter, and medical and dental care not involving an invasive procedure;
  • the right to consent for the children to medical and dental care not involving an invasive procedure; and
  • the right to direct the moral and religious training of the children.

If the parents are joint managing conservators, each parent may independently exercise the following additional rights, whereas in a sole managing conservatorship, only one parent may exercise these rights exclusively:

  • the independent right to consent to medical, dental, and surgical treatment involving invasive procedures;
  • the independent right to consent to psychiatric and psychological treatment of the children;
  • the independent right to represent the children in legal action;
  • the independent right to consent to marriage and to enlistment in the armed forces of the United States;
  • the independent right to make decisions concerning the children’s education;

These lists are not all inclusive and are for informational purposes only. There are other duties and rights that may not be listed.

Child custody issues are found in not only in Divorce Proceedings, but also in cases involving the parent-child relationship where the parents were not married, and in Modification Proceedings. If you find yourself in need of representation for child custody, give our office a call today to schedule your consultation. Our motivated, results-driven Family Law Attorneys can advise you on what you can expect with your child custody issues.

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