When parents decide to live apart, they must resolve matters related to child custody. Making appropriate arrangements can be one of the most challenging aspects of a divorce or separation.
Courts encourage parents to work together to design a workable arrangement that supports their children’s interests. Understanding the types of custody in The Colony can help parents make more informed, appropriate decisions.
In this situation, working with an attorney who is well-versed in custody issues could prove extremely beneficial. A custody attorney serving The Colony could help parents negotiate a suitable agreement that serves and protects the best interests of their children. Contact our firm today to get started.
Custody in The Colony is defined as both the physical possession of a child, and the right to make decisions concerning their education, healthcare, religious training, and other fundamental issues. In most states, possession of a child is called “physical custody,” and the right to make decisions is called “legal custody.” Texas calls physical custody “possessory conservatorship” and legal custody “managing conservatorship.”
Texas Family Code §153.001 favors parents sharing physical possession and decision-making authority. The law presumes that this arrangement, called “joint conservatorship,” favors the child’s best interests because it most closely resembles how parents would handle child-rearing if they were living together.
For some parents, it may be challenging to have a 50/50 custody split. This is because an equal balance between their work schedule and caring for their children is not always feasible. Joint conservatorship does not require a 50/50 split of parenting time, but does require that each parent has substantial time with the children on a schedule that works for the family.
Although joint conservatorship assumes both parents will share decision-making on all important topics, parents have the freedom to make other arrangements that make more sense in their unique situation. For example, if one parent is religious and the other is not, they might agree that the religious parent makes decisions about religious practice and training. If one parent is a doctor and the other a teacher, the parents might agree that each parent has the final say about decisions within their field of expertise.
Sometimes, one parent has abandoned the family or has no interest in being deeply involved in their children’s lives. In other cases, a parent might be abusive, have substance abuse issues, have mental health challenges, or be unable to provide a safe home for the children for other reasons. Sometimes the other parent is incarcerated.
In such cases, courts will award “sole conservatorship” to the parent best equipped to provide an appropriate home. The judge will grant the other parent sufficient visitation time to maintain their relationship with the children. A parent cannot deny visitation to a co-parent unless they can prove the co-parent is unfit or a danger to the children. In this case, a judge might order that a responsible adult supervise the visits to ensure the children’s safety and well-being.
If both parents are absent or pose safety concerns, a judge could award conservatorship to a third party. Third-party conservators are often grandparents or other close relatives. In most cases, the third-party conservator has an ongoing relationship with the children and usually has been caring for the children before petitioning for conservatorship.
If someone has further questions about the various types of custody in The Colony, they should contact an experienced local attorney.
As noted above, the law encourages parents to create a custody agreement that works for their family. However, even when they do so, they must submit their plan to the court for approval. If the parents cannot agree on a plan, the judge will make one for them.
When deciding on custody or any other issue that directly impacts a child, a judge must choose the solution that best supports the child’s best interest. If the judge perceives the child’s best interests and the parent’s conflict, the court must prioritize the child.
Parents sometimes have difficulty distinguishing their child’s best interests from their own. An attorney in The Colony could help explain the types of custody and the factors a judge might consider when deciding on child custody matters.
If you and your co-parent have decided to live apart, it is vital to address child custody matters. Unfortunately, putting a custody agreement down on paper can be a challenging task to do without the help of an experienced attorney. This is because there are several types of custody in The Colony, and knowing which one will support your children’s best interests can be difficult.
Working with a local custody attorney could help you and your co-parent make informed decisions regarding your family. Call our firm today to schedule a consultation with a knowledgeable custody lawyer.
Our Law Firm’s approach to your case is based on individual circumstances. Whether it is a simple negotiated settlement, or it requires an aggressive approach, we will protect and defend your best interests.