Texas Child Custody Laws
Getting a divorce can be a challenging and mentally exhausting experience at best. Add child custody issues to the mix and it can suddenly be elevated to a grueling ordeal. Sometimes, parents are able to work out a co-parenting plan that works well for both parties, but in the event that they are not, it will be up to a court to decide. Either way, there are certain Texas child custody laws that must be considered. Read on to discover some of the stipulations currently in place as well as some other considerations to keep in mind regarding Texas child custody laws and your divorce.
Types of Child Custody in Texas
Texas child custody laws, as with custody laws in most states, are nuanced and sometimes complicated, but they can basically be boiled down to two types of custody: Conservatorship and Possession and Access.
- Possession and Access: This type of custody refers to the physical location of the child’s residency as well as visitation schedules for the non-custodial parent. There are two basic schedules for Possession and Access, including Standard and Extended Standard. These schedules detail specific visitation schedules for each parent, however the court may also designate an individualized plan based on the unique needs of a particular family. The divorcing couple may also present their own agreed upon plan to the court, and the court will consider whether this plan is in the best interest of the child or children in question. If so, it is the court’s discretion to approve or disapprove this plan.
- Conservatorship: This type of custody refers to each parent’s ability to make decisions for the child, including decisions related to education, medical needs, and other important issues that need to be considered while the child is a minor. There are two basic types of conservatorship as applied to the different types of Texas child custody laws.
- Joint Managing Conservatorship: This is the type of conservatorship most often awarded. It allows for both parents to make joint decisions regarding the child or children, however the judge still has the ability to appoint a particular parent to make certain decisions if he/she determines it is in the best interest of the child to do so. It’s also important to note that just because a divorcing couple may receive joint conservatorship, that doesn’t necessarily mean they are going to enjoy equal possession and access benefits.
- Sole Managing Conservatorship: As the title suggests, this type of conservatorship allows for one parent to be given sole decision-making ability concerning a couple’s children. As mentioned above, this can range from decisions regarding education, sole consent for medical and psychiatric needs, the ability to determine residency for the child, among many other things.
While this is not as common as joint managing conservatorship, there are several reasons why this type of conservatorship might be ordered. Sometimes, it’s as simple as one parent not wishing to be a conservator. Other times, a judge could make this decision if the other parent has a history of committing domestic violence or of drug abuse, has been an absent parent for an extended period of time, or if history has illustrated that the parents have serious disagreements over things such as religious, medical or educational values. It is important to note that just because one parent is awarded sole conservatorship does not mean that the other parent is not awarded visitation or other rights to the child as the judge deems fit.
Texas Child Custody Laws and Child Support
The awarding of child support is another important aspect of custody arrangements in Texas. While situations certainly may vary, generally the parent that has the highest degree of possession and access is the one to receive child support. Often, it will also be the responsibility of the parent paying child support to arrange for health insurance for the child, with both parents sharing the burden of paying any expenses not covered by health insurance. Once child support has been officially awarded by the court, a request for wage withholding is sent to the parent’s employer. After wage withholding is initiated, the employer is expected to send payments to the child support office, who will then distribute support to the receiving party. While law dictates the funds are to be used for the support of the child, the parent receiving the support has full discretion over how the money is ultimately used.
Child support is usually calculated using preset guidelines that dictate a percentage of the payer’s net income. If the parent ordered to pay the support has no income at the time of the order, then the court will generally base child support on the assumption of a forty-hour work week multiplied by the minimum wage in Texas at that time. If a parent refuses to pay child support, or falls behind, they may receive punishment ranging from jail, to court fines, or even wage garnishment. In addition, if a parent falls behind on their child support obligations by more than ninety days, the court has the option to suspend or revoke their driver’s license.
Know Your Rights Regarding Texas Child Custody Laws
Divorce is one of the most stressful things an adult will experience. Add child custody issues to the mix and it becomes even more stressful and complicated. Knowing your rights as well as what to expect when you walk into that courtroom can do wonders for your peace of mind. When it comes to your divorce, it’s imperative to have professionals you can trust on your team—people that know Texas child custody laws inside and out, and will make sure you are aware of your rights and will work to ensure that you have the best possible outcome for your divorce.
If you are interested in learning more about hiring lawyer experienced in Texas child custody laws, please contact The Overstreet Law Firm at (817) 809-6643 today. We can provide a comprehensive consultation as well as provide all the information you need to make the best decision for your personal needs.