Most preconceptions around the term “Child Custody” come from misunderstanding what it encompasses. Although the term is used by the Texas Family Code and in case law, this term is often a misnomer for the types of determinations that parents desire when they seek a “custody fight.” While the word custody implies that both parents want the same thing, most often, there are two distinct but overlapping views about what is best for the child. The key to achieving an agreement in Texas for child custody is ensuring everyone understands what it entails for each parent and their child.
In most cases, the issues at hand in a Texas Child Custody case are Conservatorship, Possession, Access, and Residency. The days of one parent getting "custody" and the other parent relegated to the status of a second-class citizen with little or no access to their children are virtually unheard of. You should be able to achieve a good result with proper legal advice and representation from a Texas child custody attorney.
What Does Child Custody Decide?
Parenting plans during a divorce are the keystone of Texas child custody arrangements. Texas child custody cases consider a child’s age, preference for a guardian, and needs regarding placement. A divorce can be stressful for everyone, but a reasonable Texas child custody attorney understands that keeping a positive relationship between parents and children is crucial.
With the exception of reasonably extreme cases, parents are entitled to be designated as Joint Managing Conservators, but that does not mean that they have equal rights, responsibilities, and duties. The Texas Family Code states that there is a presumption that appointing the parents of a child as Joint Managing Conservators is in the child's best interest.
A custody battle is usually over which parent will be designated in Primary Possession of the child or children. Although nothing is written in stone, generally speaking, the parent in Primary Possession is normally the parent that receives Child Support, gets to claim the children as a deduction on taxes, and gets to determine the school which the children will attend.
Who Decides Residency?
In Texas, child custody cases tackle whether the parent can move with the children. These cases also dictate the time each parent spends with the children. This is called possession and access. Often, the parent not in Primary Possession will be interested in seeking a Geographic Restriction on the domicile or residency of the Primary Possessor.
Although geographic restrictions were all but unknown in decades past, it is now common for the court to place a restriction on the parent in primary possession, which prevents him or her from moving the residency of the children to a county other than the one in which the case is filed or a contiguous county. This ensures that the non-custodial parent can access their children even after separation.
Although the non-primary possessing parent is generally entitled to possession of the children for approximately 45% of the time when considered on an annual basis, you’ll find that in deciding how to proceed in a case, one needs to evaluate the effect of a 10% swing in possession. The difference between 45% (non-primary) and 55% (primary) is 10%. 10% of a year is approximately 36 days. For a child six years old at the time of divorce, the difference in being the primary or non-primary parent means the difference in over one entire year of the child's life.
In Texas, child custody cases can also go through modification. Modification can change a custody, visitation, or support order. Modification cases can help increase the time a parent can spend with the child, decrease the amount of child support, or transfer custody if needed.
Nothing is more important in your case than your children. You need a Texas child custody attorney that cares about you, your children, and your case. We are here to support you in this difficult time. We’ll help you with the help you need.
Here are some Beal Law Firm Resources that may help you with your Child Custody questions:
Jurisdiction for Custody Cases