Child custody matters that arise in the course of a divorce are very serious. Decisions made have the potential to affect you, your children and the relationship you have with your children for the rest of your life. While child custody decisions must be made, emotions can easily cloud your judgment when it comes to reaching a fair child custody agreement. For this reason, it is a good idea to enlist the assistance of a the child custody lawyers at Bailey Reyes who can help you sort through the overwhelming details of the moment to see the big picture consequences of the important decisions you must make. Child custody, including modification proceedings, can be one of the most hotly contested aspects of a divorce.
How Do You Get a Conservatorship in Texas?
Texas uses the term “conservatorship” while most states simply use “custody”. As a result, the parent that has custody of the child is known as the “conservator”. A few terms that stem from this are:
- Two types of conservators:
- Managing conservator
- Possessory conservator
- Two additional sub-categories:
- Sole managing conservator
- Joint managing conservator
In the event the parents cannot agree on a custody plan, the court will decide whether to establish a Joint Managing Conservatorship (joint custody) or Sole Managing Conservatorship (sole custody). The decision as to what type of conservatorship will be awarded to whom, as well as the child’s primary residence and the visitation program, will be based solely on what is best for the child.
Some of the factors a court will consider include which parent has been more involved with the child, parenting skills, resources and which parent is truly putting the child first. Children ages twelve (12) or older may express to the judge (in chambers) a preference of which parent should be allowed to determine their primary residence.Parents should know that a custody fight will be expensive. It also may harm the children and harm relationships within the family. Because of these issues, parents often reach an agreement concerning custody.
Regardless of whether the court establishes a Joint Managing Conservatorship or Sole Managing Conservatorship, in the typical divorce, the children will reside with one parent (i.e., the parent with the right to determine the primary residence of the children) while the other parent will have visitation rights. If the parents cannot agree on a visitation program, the court will make the decision.
The Texas Family Code presumes the following standard visitation schedule for parents of children age three (3) and over who live within 100 miles of each other. The possessory parent has visitation:
- On weekends starting at 6:00 p.m. on the first, third and fifth Friday of each month and ending at 6:00 p.m. on the following Sunday (options are to start when school is dismissed on Fridays and/or to end when school resumes, usually on the next Monday morning).
- On Thursdays during the school year starting at 6:00 p.m. and ending at 8:00 p.m. (options are to start when school is dismissed and/or to end when school resumes, usually on the next Friday morning).
- From 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. on the child’s birthday.
- In even-numbered years: during Spring Break and for Christmas from the time school lets out until noon on December 28; the managing conservator has possession on Thanksgiving, and on December 28 until 6 p.m. on the day before school resumes after that vacation. In odd–numbered years, the holiday schedule is reversed.
- For thirty (30) days during the summer. If the possessory parent gives notice before April 1, he or she may designate the thirty (30) days during the summer when he or she has possession in up to two separate periods of at least seven (7) days. If no notice is given, the visiting parent has possession from July 1 until July 31.
- Fathers have possession on Father’s Day from 6:00 p.m. on the Friday before Father’s Day until 6:00 p.m. on Father’s Day. Mothers have the same period on Mother’s Day.
When the parents live more than 100 miles apart, visitation on Thanksgiving, Christmas, the child’s birthday, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day remain the same. The possessory parent also is allowed 42 days with the children during the summer and can follow the first, third, and fifth weekend schedule or choose to select one weekend a month with fourteen (14) days advance notice.When a child is under the age of three (3), and depending upon the child’s needs and the parents’ circumstances, most courts will establish a customized visitation schedule that could include overnight visitation.
It is important for your children’s well being that the proper conservatorship and visitation program is established by the court. If you need assistance in a child custody case, call the family lawyers at Bailey Reyes, PLLC.