If you are new to the divorce process in Texas, you may have questions about how child custody works. The child custody laws in Texas are essential to understand to help protect your parental rights. How the law is applied to your case will impact your day-to-day relationship with your children once the divorce is finalized.
I want to share some of the key aspects of child custody that are often not thought about during the process of finalizing a divorce. But, these aspects are important to know because they can have a significant impact on your post-divorce life as it relates to your ability to provide care to your children.
What You Need To Know About Child Custody Laws in Texas
1. Time Considerations for Joint Managing Conservators
When parents divorce in Texas, the law presumes that parents should be joint managing conservators. This means that each parent is allowed to share in the decision-making responsibilities for each child. However, it does not guarantee that the time you spend with your child is split equally with the other spouse.
Many parents do not realize that there is a difference between their rights to share responsibility versus share time with the child. Within the child custody aspect of the legal preceding, there will be a determination of child visitation as part of a Standard Possession Order, which will indicate when each parent will have access to their child.
This is determined by who is considered the custodial parent versus the non-custodial parent. The custodial parent is considered the parent who is primarily responsible for the care of the child and, therefore, is typically granted the bulk of time with the child. The non-custodial parent is then allotted specified days and time to spend time with the child.
2. Other Types of Conservators in Texas
While the law presumes that parents will be named joint managing conservators, there are circumstances where this is not the case. A court could assign sole managing conservatorship to one of the parents, especially if there is a history of violence, abuse, or absenteeism on the other side of the parenting relationship.
You may not know that you can pursue sole managing conservatorship in Texas. It is very challenging to obtain, as it requires very strong, well-documented evidence that the other parent is unfit to provide care or have a meaningful relationship with the child. You will need emails, text messages, police records (if applicable), first-hand accounts, and other compelling evidence to support this claim.
Another type of conservator in Texas is the possessory conservator. Suppose you are determined to be the possessory conservator. In that case, this means that you are restricted in your ability to participate in the decision-making process for the child’s care. You may be allowed to visit the child under certain circumstances, but you do not have the same rights as if you were assigned joint managing conservatorship.
The Texas Family Code specifies that the court will “specify the rights and duties of a person appointed possessory conservator.” The court will typically put into writing the “times and conditions” when a possessory conservator can have access to the child. Ultimately, the court will act in the best interest of the child when making this determination.
3. The Court Will Review Your Performance
If you and your spouse are assigned as joint managing conservators, you will need to meet the duties and obligations assigned to you by the court. Remember, this is a legal matter, and there will be legal ramifications if you are unable to uphold your end of the court order.
After the divorce is finalized and custody is determined, the court could periodically review whether each side is adhering to the terms of the order. This could lead to the court enforcing the original court order.
For example, if one spouse consistently fails to adhere to the terms of the Standard Possession Order – and there is strong evidence to support the claim of non-compliance – then the offender could face a hefty fine or even jail time. So, make sure you understand your obligations so that you can continue to do your part in providing quality care for your child.
Work With Blair Parker for Support With a Child Custody Matter
Divorce is difficult on its own. Child custody matters can take on a life of their own. Let me work with you to help protect your rights as a parent so that you can have a bright future with your child.
Over the past decade, I have helped many families in Fort Bend County, Brazoria County, and Harris County navigate the child custody laws in Texas to arrive at the best possible outcome for themselves and their children. I can do the same for you.
I practice family law exclusively so that I can provide the best possible legal representation and support for my clients. Contact me today at 281-944-5485 or 979-267-7660 to further discuss your child custody situation. I’m here to help!