What is Child Custody in Texas?
Child custody is often one of the most contentious areas of family law. At the Law Office of Craig S. Michalk, we understand how stressful custody issues can be.
If you need assistance with child custody, contact me today at 817-282-9895 for a free consultation.
Child Custody in Texas
In Texas, the legal term for custody is “conservatorship.” Conservatorship determines the rights and duties of each parent. There are three main types of conservators in Tarrant County: 1) joint managing conservator, 2) sole managing conservator, and 3) possessory conservator.
Types of Custody Arrangements in Texas
In a joint managing conservatorship, both parents will, for the most part, share equally in the rights and duties of raising the child. The court will grant one parent the right to pick the primary residence of the child. Most often, courts will restrict residence to a particular area so that the child can see both parents regularly. A joint conservatorship does not mean that physical custody is split 50/50. The child’s time with each parent is determined in the Possession and Access Order.
The sole managing conservator has the exclusive right to make decisions for the child in important areas, like education, medical care, and religion. He or she will also have the right to decide the primary residence of the child. A court will name a parent sole managing conservator in situations involving family violence or when the other parent is absent.
When one parent is named sole managing conservator, the other parent is usually named possessory conservator. The possessory conservator may be awarded visitation rights and is often ordered to pay child support. The court will determine what, if any, rights and duties the possessory conservator has.
How is Child Custody Decided in Texas?
Parents can create their own child custody agreement in Tarrant County, but the court must approve it. Without a court order, each parent is free to take the child at any time. In most circumstances, the judge will approve the custody arrangement unless it raises serious questions about the child’s well-being.
If the parents cannot agree, the court will decide child custody based on the child’s best interest. Texas courts cannot base their decision on the parent’s marital status or gender. The court will not favor the mother over the father.
How Does the Court Decide the Best Interests of the Child in Texas?
In Texas, the court presumes that it is in the child’s best interest for both parents to have a meaningful role in raising the child.
The court will look at several factors when determining what is in the best interest of the child. Some of these factors include:
- The wishes of the child;
- The emotional and physical needs of the child now and in the future;
- The parenting abilities of the individuals seeking custody;
- The programs available to assist each parent;
- Each parent’s plans for the child;
- The stability of the proposed home; and
- Any acts or omissions of the parent that may indicate parental unfitness.
What are Possession and Access Orders in Texas?
In Tarrant County, a Possession and Access Order (PAO) is a court order that outlines each parent’s visitation rights. It instructs the non-custodial parent how, when, and where they will see their child.
Most custody orders include a Standard Possession Order. The Standard Possession Order states that when the parents live within 100 miles of each other, the non-custodial parent has the right to possession on:
- Alternating holidays,
- An extended period (30 days) during summer vacation,
- The first, third, and fifth weekends of every month, and
- Thursday evenings during the school year.
When the parents live more than 100 miles apart:
- The weekend schedule may be reduced to one weekend per month,
- There is no Thursday visit,
- The holidays remain alternating, and
- There is an extended (30 day) visit during the summer.
Parents are not required to use the SPO. Parents can agree on other possession and access schedules based on their needs.
Your Tarrant County Family Law Attorney
Sadly, once a relationship ends, the custody, visitation, possession, and access to a child or children can become a legal issue that you must deal with. Should you ever find yourself in this position, don’t hesitate to call the Law Office of Craig S. Michalk.
The Law Office Of Craig S. Michalk provides experienced legal counsel in all areas of family law; including divorce, child custody, child support, paternity, adoptions, modifications, enforcements, and name changes.
We represent clients in the Tarrant County, Texas communities of Arlington, Azle, Bedford, Colleyville, Euless, Fort Worth, Grand Prairie, Grapevine, Haltom City, Haslet, Hurst, Keller, Lake Worth, Mansfield, North Richland Hills, Richland Hills, Roanoke, Saginaw, Southlake, and Watauga.
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