- Custody. The key for every custody decision in Texas is what is in the best interest of the child. It is not what is in the best interest of the parent. Texas law uses different terms than other states for custody matters. Other states use terms like joint legal custody and sole custody. Texas looks at parents as “conservators.” Texas has two terms for conservators. The first term is joint managing conservatorship. Here, both parents will have input into how the child is raised. The second term is sole managing conservatorship. Here, one parents makes the key decisions.
- Visitation. In most cases, the child (children) will live with one parent (the residential parent) while the other parent will have visitation rights. Visitation rights means the child will stay with the non-residential parent periodically. A typical visitation schedule might include alternate weekends, alternate holidays and vacation time. Texas has standard visitation schedules that it likes to use depending on where the parents live.
Sole Managing Conservatorship in Texas Custody Cases
In a sole managing conservatorship, the child will live with one parent. The other parent’s rights to visit with the child will be severely limited. This situation is mostly for those relationships where the parents simply can’t get along. If there is a history of violence, then the non-violent caring parent will almost certainly get sole managing conservatorship of the child.
Joint Managing Conservatorship in Texas Custody Cases
Texas likes to encourage parent collaboration. It favors parents who make it clear that they are going to work for what’s right for their child. Collaboration means the parents will both make decisions as how the child will be raised, how the child will be educated and how, when necessary, the child will be disciplined. The child will stay with one parent but the other parent will spend much time with the child. When both parents live nearby or they really get along, the time spent with each child by the different parent can be almost equal.
Texas likes for both parents to live near to the child. It will rule that the primary residence is with one parent. It will then rule, though, that there is a geographical limit on the primary residence. The court order will say, for example, the primary residence has to be in the same county, a group of counties or the same state (Texas) as where the other parent lives. In short, this means one parent can’t relocate far away from the other parent unless there’s a really good reason.
As part of the custody lawsuit, each parent will present a plan for the rights and duties of each parent. The court will then review the two plans. If the plans are identical, then the court will likely go with the plan the parents have agreed to. If there are differences, then the court will prepare their own plan, using the competing plans as a starting point. Some common items in a plan are these:
o Who has the right to the medical and school records of the child?
o Who can attend school activities?
o Who can be listed as an emergency contact?
o Who has the right to make decisions about the child’s religious and moral upbringing?
o Both parents have a duty to inform the other parent if they are going to remarry
Questions? Give us a call at 888 584 9614 or request our book on what you need to know about child custody in North Texas.