It’s sad when a relationship breaks down and two people who loved each other can no longer co-exist. Tumultuous situations like this become more difficult when they involve children. Deciding where the child or children are going to live and for how long is stressful for all parties. If you find yourself in this situation, you probably have questions. Here are some important things to understand about Texas child custody laws.
Primary custody of children (referred to as “sole custody” by some), is a misnomer. In Texas a conservatorship is what most people refer to as custody. Chapter 153 of the Texas Family Code determines the criteria for appointing conservators. It also covers giving rights of possession and access to a child or children. Basically, it covers who gets physicall possession of a child. So with that in mind, what is the meaning of primary child custody in Texas?
Primary custody only exists in a situation where both parents will share physical custody of their child or children. The state of Texas views both parents sharing custody of a child as the best course of action. By contrast, sole custody means that the child or children reside with just one of the parents. The parent who does not have sole custody could be given visitation rights or not. It depends on the circumstances surrounding the case and ultimately what is best for the child or children involved.
It is reasonable to expect if divorce or separation occurs between two parents based on something like substance dependency, which the court would mandate rehabilitation before more visitation rights or shared physical custody could occur. Remember, conservatorship always places the well being of a child above the rights of a parent.
There are two kinds of conservators: managing conservator and possessory conservator. The Texas Family Code supposes that the parents should be assigned as joint managing conservators. One of the most sought after things in a case of child custody in Texas is the right to choose the primary residence of the child. The parent who gets to make this decision is often referred to as the primary conservator.
A primary conservator makes decisions on how the child will be raised and will choose what school the child will go to, what religion the child will observe (if any), and medical decisions on the child’s behalf. This title does not mean the other parent has been stripped of any rights or say in how the child or children are raised. In most cases where both parties are civil, the primary conservator will discuss decisions with the other parent.
The family court in Texas aims to have both parents involved and tries to restrict the mandates it makes determining who will have primary custody. There are times that require mandates. For example, the court may issue a mandate if the parties involved can’t agree, or a significant factor is brought to court’s attention. The qualities of each parent really determine primary custody or primary conservatorship. Obliviously, if one parent is physically or verbally abusive, that will weigh heavily in determining which parent is the primary conservator.
As previously stated divorces that involve physical or verbal abuse, drug use, felonies, or other crucial issues, courts will most likely see the offending parent as a risk or bad influence on the child or children. In cases where child safety is apparent, it is prudent for the court to restrict that parent’s access to the child or children, possible not letting them have access at all.
If parents split custody then the child or children could reside with both parents. The parent who has less time with possession and access will have to pay child support to the other parent in most cases. The parent who is not the primary conservator could get the child or children in seasonal circumstances, on weekends, or holidays. In some cases, the judge may only allow supervised visits. This occasionally happens when a parent has had a negative history with a child or children.
The court typically awards a joint managing conservatorship. However, if the parent poses a danger to the child the judge may cease their visitation. By granting a joint managing conservatorship, or joint custody, the court allows both parents the chance to make choices that impact their child or children’s lives and have a say in life decisions. With this arrangement, both parents have equal rights in the rearing of their child or children. This is typically the preferred option when it comes to child custody in Texas.
All of the rules and determining factors can become confusing or even overwhelming while already being in the midsts of an emotionally stressful situation. There are as many permutations that determine conservatorship in Texas as there are laws concerning the matter. Trying to navigate all of these different scenarios which decide who will have primary custody of their children is not an easy task. That is why it makes sense to contact Wilson and Associates to guide you through the red tape and confusion of child custody in Texas.