The Basics of Joint Custody and Child Support

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What Are The Child Custody In Texas?

In Texas, child custody is referred to as “conservatorship.” Instead of a custodial parent and a noncustodial parent, Texas has “managing conservators” and “possessory conservators.”

Managing Conservatorship (Custody)

This typically refers to the parent who has the right to make important decisions about the child’s life, such as education, health care, and religion.

The parent with managing conservatorship often has primary physical custody of the child, but not always.

There can be joint managing conservatorship as well where both parents share these rights and responsibilities.

Possessory Conservatorship (Visitation)

This usually refers to the parent who has the right to spend time with the child but may not have as many decision-making rights about the child’s life.

Texas law has a strong preference for joint managing conservatorship, which means that the court will try to allow both parents to share the rights and duties of raising their child, even after a divorce.

But the specifics of how this is implemented can vary widely, based on the best interests of the child.

In determining what’s in the best interests of the child, courts in Texas might consider several factors including:

  • The emotional and physical needs of the child, now and in the future.
  • The emotional and physical danger to the child, now and in the future.
  • The parental abilities of the individuals seeking custody.
  • The programs available to assist these individuals to promote the best interest of the child.
  • The plans for the child by these individuals or by the agency seeking custody.
  • The stability of the home or proposed placement.
  • The acts or omissions of the parent that may indicate that the existing parent-child relationship is not a proper one.
  • Any excuse for the acts or omissions of the parent.

What Are The Types Of Child Custody?

The types of child custody can vary depending on the jurisdiction and specific circumstances of the case. However, here are some common types of child custody arrangements:

Physical Custody

This refers to where the child primarily lives on a day-to-day basis. It can be either:

Sole Physical Custody

The child lives with one parent, and the other parent may have visitation rights or parenting time.

Joint Physical Custody

The child lives with both parents, spending significant time with each parent. The exact arrangement may vary, such as alternating weeks or specific weekdays.

Legal Custody

This refers to the authority to make major decisions regarding the child’s upbringing, including matters related to education, healthcare, religion, and other important aspects of the child’s life. Legal custody can also be:

Sole Legal Custody

One parent has the sole authority to make decisions.

Joint Legal Custody

Both parents share the responsibility and decision-making authority.

Bird’s Nest Custody

Bird’s Nest Custody, also known as “nesting” or “bird nesting” custody, is a unique custody arrangement where the children remain in the family home, and it is the parents who rotate in and out of the home to take turns caring for the children.

Instead of the children moving between two separate residences, the parents are the ones who alternate living arrangements.

Split Custody

This arrangement is rare and occurs when there are multiple children involved. In split custody, each parent has physical custody of one or more children, dividing the siblings between them.

It’s important to note that custody arrangements can be customized to fit the specific needs and best interests of the child.

In some cases, the court may order supervised visitation or impose restrictions if there are concerns about the child’s safety or well-being.

The laws and terminology regarding child custody can vary, so it’s essential to consult with a family law attorney or legal professional in your jurisdiction for specific guidance.

What Custody Arrangement Is Best For A Child?

Determining the best custody arrangement for a child depends on various factors and should prioritize the child’s well-being and best interests.

There is no one-size-fits-all answer, as each case is unique and requires careful consideration of the specific circumstances involved.

However, here are some general principles that courts and professionals consider when determining the best custody arrangement:

Stability and Continuity

Maintaining stability and a consistent routine is often beneficial for a child’s emotional and psychological well-being. The custody arrangement should provide a sense of security and minimize disruptions to the child’s life.

Parent-Child Relationship

Encouraging and nurturing a strong and healthy relationship between the child and both parents is crucial.

The custody arrangement should facilitate frequent and meaningful contact between the child and each parent, allowing for quality time and bonding.

Parental Cooperation

A custody arrangement that promotes cooperation and effective communication between the parents is generally considered beneficial.

Parents who can work together and make joint decisions in the child’s best interests create a more positive environment for the child.

Child’s Preferences

Depending on their age and maturity level, the child’s preferences may be taken into account, particularly in cases where they can express their desires and have a reasonable understanding of the situation.

However, the weight given to a child’s preferences varies depending on the jurisdiction and the child’s age.

Safety and Well-being

The child’s safety and well-being should be the utmost priority.

If there are concerns about a parent’s ability to provide a safe and nurturing environment due to issues like abuse, neglect, substance abuse, or mental health concerns, the custody arrangement may need to reflect those concerns, potentially including supervised visitation or limitations on custody.

Ultimately, the best custody arrangement will depend on the specific circumstances and the unique needs of the child.

It is often beneficial for parents to work together, consider the child’s perspective, and, if necessary, seek the guidance of family law professionals or child custody evaluators who can provide a comprehensive assessment of the situation.

What Is The Difference Between Shared And Joint Custody?

Shared custody and joint custody are terms that are sometimes used interchangeably, but they can have slightly different meanings depending on the jurisdiction. Here’s a general distinction between the two:

Shared Custody

Shared custody typically refers to a custody arrangement where both parents have significant and roughly equal amounts of physical custody or parenting time with the child.

It focuses on dividing the child’s time between the parents in a relatively equal manner.

The specific schedule may vary, but it often involves the child spending at least 35-40% of their time with each parent. Shared custody can also be referred to as “shared physical custody” or “50/50 custody.”

Joint Custody

Joint custody, on the other hand, generally refers to a custody arrangement where both parents share decision-making authority regarding the child’s upbringing and major life decisions.

It emphasizes joint responsibility for important aspects of the child’s life, such as education, healthcare, religion, and extracurricular activities.

Joint custody can be combined with various physical custody arrangements, such as one parent having primary physical custody while both parents share legal custody.

It’s important to note that the specific definitions and terminology can vary depending on the jurisdiction and legal context.

In some cases, the terms “shared custody” and “joint custody” may be used interchangeably to refer to a custody arrangement that involves both significant parenting time and joint decision-making authority.

When negotiating or determining custody arrangements, it’s crucial to clearly define the terms and understand how they are interpreted and applied in the relevant jurisdiction to avoid any confusion or misunderstanding.

Consulting with a family law attorney or legal professional can provide specific guidance based on the laws and practices in your jurisdiction.

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