A divorce is never easy on any party. The toll both financially and emotionally can be large and last a lifetime. When minor children are involved, the ante is even higher, requiring some separation from and loss of parent and child time together.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention statistics note that an average of 3.6 Americans out of every 1,000 get divorced annually. In Texas, that number is only slightly lower at 3.2 people out of every 1,000. For those people with children under the age of 18, Texas' child custody laws and plans are critical.
Three basic custody schedules
In Texas, there are typically three primary forms of child custody, as follows:
- Joint managing conservatorship - this is essentially joint legal custody and is often awarded in Texas.
- Sole managing conservatorship - this is essentially sole custody.
- Sole possessing conservatorship - this is essentially what is awarded to the non-custodial parent when one parent is awarded sole managing conservatorship.
Parents are always encouraged to identify their parenting plan and custody agreement together if possible. If the husband and wife cannot come to agreements about their children jointly, the court will make the determinations with the best interests of the child in mind.
Joint managing conservatorship
The basics of this plan allow and require that both parents make all decisions for the children together. This includes where the children will live, choices regarding education, healthcare, personal care and more. It is considered to be in the best interest of children providing there is no history of abuse, violence or other such circumstance that would make the involvement of one or both parents harmful to the child's well-being.
Sole managing conservatorship
If there are circumstances that indicate a child is not safe or fully protected by one parent, such as child abuse, domestic violence or other similar things, the court will award full custody to only one parent. This parent then has the right to make all decisions for the child by themselves with no input from the other parent.
Sole possessing conservatorship
In the events that a sole managing conservatorship is awarded and the other parent is provided parenting time, that parent is given possessing conservatorship which allows him or her to make decisions for the child's well-being when that child is in his or her custody only. They are not allowed to make larger decisions such as education for the child.
The nuances of child custody can be very difficult for parents and children. Texas courts work hard to maintain the bonds between children and parents through the process of divorce. If you are facing a divorce and have minor children, it is highly recommended that you work with an experienced family law attorney who can effectively advocate for you and your children.