Child custody arrangements are often the most difficult, intense, and emotionally charged aspect of two people getting divorced. Even in cases of more amicable divorces, carefully balancing the desires of both parents and the best interests of the children can be a delicate task.
If you and your spouse are going through the divorce process and there are children involved, it is extremely important to involve a family law attorney. This is because a lawyer can prevent decision making from becoming ugly, angry, unproductive and stop the creation of an atmosphere that could impact the children’s relationships with their parents. Furthermore, a family law attorney can ensure that the final divorce settlement is fair, all potential risks have been identified, and that your legal rights are protected.
If you and your spouse are attempting to work out a custody arrangement for your children, The Love DuCote Law Firm LLC is here to help you. We have the experience, negotiating skills, and compassion to work with you to determine the right solution in a low-friction manner.
Feel confident in a fair custody arrangement by calling our firm at 832-843-1691 today.
The Most Common Child Custody Agreement In Texas
One of the most common custody arrangements in Texas tends to be a pre-scheduled division of possession and access, enshrined in a parenting plan or possession schedule, through a joint managing conservatorship.
Possession and access in Texas are the legal terms that replace how physical and legal custody usually work in other states. The custodial parent with possession (or legal custody) of the child is the one who has legal possession of the child, is the child’s primary residence, and makes the major decisions surrounding the child’s life.
The parent with access (or physical custody) has the right to scheduled physical possession and frequent contact with the child. Usually, this parent spends a smaller percentage of the total time with their child and has less of a say in making decisions about the life of the child.
However, this is not necessarily cut and dry, and can work differently for different couples, as we will explore in the next section. The way you shape your joint managing conservatorship is largely down to what the two of you can agree upon.
Your Parenting Plan Can Be Customized
The parenting plan or possession schedule that both parents form is not a one-size-fits-all thing. These custody agreements will depend on the unique needs of each set of parents, the needs of their children, and the other practical considerations involved.
When both parents agree to work together and come to compromises, a parenting plan can be devised between them to suit both of their needs. In this way, access schedules can incorporate the individual circumstances of each parent, each parent’s availability, each parent’s employment situation, and other things of this nature. The parents may agree to equal possession or a more one-sided possession schedule, depending on what suits them.
Things work in a similar way, even if the two parents cannot agree on a custody agreement on their own. In this situation, lawyers representing each party may facilitate an arbitration to attempt to reach a schedule that is a fair compromise of the needs and desires of each parent.
If negotiation still does not allow an acceptable custody agreement, it will go to the Texas courts. Then, the family court determines possession order based on the evidence available to them and what is thought to be in the best interest of the children.
Common Possession Time-Sharing Schedules
As we have said, there are many different ways that time can be split between each parent in these types of custody agreements. The time a child spends with each parent is usually determined by their parents’ work schedules, the time scheduling of the child’s education, the child’s needs to attend school activities in the evenings and on weekends, and other factors.
However, there are some common custody arrangements, in terms of timings, that we see more often than others. These include:
- The 4-3 schedule, where the child spends three days a week with one parent and then four days a week with the other parent.
- The 2-2-5-5 schedule, where the child is with each parent for a two-day period, followed by a five-day period with each parent.
- The alternating weekend schedule, where the children spend all of their weekdays with the same parent, but alternate the weekends between each parent.
- The 50/50 schedule, which is a true split of time. The children each spend an alternating week in each of their parents’ homes, letting them each experience both a week and weekend fairly.
Please bear in mind that with these custody agreements, you should plan a way to handle periods of time that do not fit neatly into the schedule. These times usually occur during the breaks in children’s school year, when one family wants to go away on vacation, or when the work schedule of one parent becomes atypical for a short period of time – such as during busy spells or extended business trips.
Other Custody Agreements Are Possible
It is worth stating that there is no pressure to go with the most common custody arrangements if they do not suit you, or if one parent is being particularly difficult or has a history of family violence, or some other complicating factor.
We will now briefly explore the other possible child custody arrangements, to ensure that you are informed of the other options available to you.
Joint Legal Custody Arrangements
Joint custody, technically known as joint managing conservatorship, also allows both parents to spend time with their child in their household.
The main difference between this approach to joint custody and the child custody arrangements listed above is that each parent will have an equal role in decisions surrounding the child. They will need to come to a joint decision on any issues surrounding the child’s physical health, their schooling, where the child lives, and other parental rights of this nature.
A joint managing conservatorship handled in this way can be the best thing for the physical and emotional needs of a child, as long as both parents are able to come to a peaceful decision about what is in the best interest of their child. Good communication and mutual decision making can do wonders for encouraging a healthy parent-child relationship for everyone involved.
Sole Custody Arrangements
Sole custody, also known as a sole managing conservatorship, is where only one parent has physical custody of the child and is allowed to make all the decisions about their life.
Often, sole custody is in the best interest of the child if the other parent has a history of family violence, abuse, substance abuse issues, if their household is an unsafe environment for the child’s health (either physically or mentally), or if there are other complications involved.
Under Texas law, a sole custody agreement does not necessarily mean that the second parent will never be able to see their children. It is possible to establish visitation rights, which may take place in the house of the primary parent, a visitation center, or in some other pre-agreed manner. Similar to a parenting plan, these can be agreed upon between the parents (with or without the help of a lawyer) or detailed in the possession order issued by the court.
What Factors Will A Judge Consider When Making Child Custody Decisions?
If there is any chance of your child custody battle going to court because neither parent can agree on the correct course of action, you will likely want to know how the judge decides the child custody verdict.
Essentially, the court and the judge will make their decision based on what is in the best interest of the child or children. This is true whether the decision is around who gets to be the custodial parent, or whether visitation rights are granted at all.
To determine what is in the best interest of the child or children, the court will evaluate based on the following factors:
- The age and health of the children and parents
- The presence of any special needs, either physical or mental, that may require psychological or medical care or psychological or medical decisions to be made
- The environment in the home of each parent
- Each parent’s personal history, including their criminal history, accusations of abuse, or substance addiction issues
- The general physical and emotional needs of the child, and the ability of each parent to provide for these
- The child’s existing relationship with each parent, and with other siblings
- The child’s educational needs
- The level of involvement each parent currently has with the life of that child
- Any other factors that may be deemed relevant
The court could also potentially consider the wishes of the child themselves. However, this is not a given. The child must be deemed old enough and the child’s desires must be stated in a well-reasoned and articulate manner.
Call A Family Law Attorney For Help With Your Case Today
When it comes to child custody disputes, you need the best in legal representation to ensure that both your rights are being protected as parents, and that the needs of your child are being fulfilled in a way that avoids unnecessarily damaging their important family relationships with conflict.
Here at The Love DuCote Law Firm LLC, we pride ourselves in being excellent negotiators with a firm grasp of Texas family law. We will help you navigate your custody case smoothly, working tirelessly to achieve the result you desire.
Get the custody result that works for you. Call The Love DuCote Law Firm LLC today at 832-843-1691.