Typically, parents who are divorcing in Texas are appointed as Joint Managing Conservators of the children. This means that both parents have specific rights and duties when it comes to the children. These rights and duties include: physical possession of the child, directing the moral and religious training, designating the primary residence, consenting to medical, dental, and psychological treatment, receiving child support, consenting to marriage or joining the armed forces, education decisions, and many more.
Joint Managing Conservators are also awarded possession and access schedules. The most common is the Standard Possession Order where the non-primary parent has the children on the first, third, and fifth weekends of each month, and every Thursday. There is typically a 30-day visitation during the summer, and holidays are split between the parties. The non-primary parent can also elect for an expanded Standard Possession Order which allows for the children to be picked up from school and returned to school with each visitation.
Sometimes Joint Managing Conservators do not designate a parent with the exclusive right to determine the primary residence of the children. When this option is elected, the area in which the children may live is usually restricted to a specific county or a particular school district.
An option that is becoming more accepted is a 50/50 possession schedule. This allows both parents to equally participate in the children’s lives and upbringing. There are several ways that this schedule can be implemented: week on/week off, 2-2-3, or 2-2-5-5, for example. When the parties agree, they can be as creative as they want to be – as long as the schedule is in the best interest of the children.
When there is a problem with one of the parties, such as alcohol, drugs, or legal issues, then there may be other options for a possession schedule. Sometimes, only one party will be designated as the Sole Managing Conservator. There are also options for a Joint Managing Conservator to use supervisors to accompany him/her when in possession of the children.
Sole Managing Conservatorships are used when there is credible evidence of recent family violence. Sole Managing Conservatorships are rarely used and every attempt is made to allow both parents to participate in the lives of the children.
Sometimes, there are other parties that can be appointed as a Joint Managing Conservator. This is often used when one or both parents are deceased, if one or both parents are having difficulties with drugs or alcohol or legal issues, or if one or both of the parents are incarcerated. Often the non-parent Joint Managing Conservators are relatives of the children.
Custody arrangements in Texas can take many different forms and can be creative as long as the arrangements are in the best interest of the children. There are many aspects to the custody arrangement and everyone should have an experienced attorney to help cover all areas. Contact us to schedule your consultation.