Thursday, November 13, 2014

What does custody mean in the State of Texas?

What is custody and co-parenting with other the parent?

Custody is the care and decision-making rights regarding a minor child.  

In Texas we use the term conservator and not guardian of a minor child.  FYI: Guardianship is totally different that conservatorship.  Texas is one of the few states to use this term and many people do not understand it.  If you don't understand then you need to talk in person to a family law attorney so the details can be explained to you full.

In Texas, there are a set of "rights and duties" of a conservator.  These are vital to understand because they impact your decision making ability regarding the minor child.  

Even if parents are "joint managing conservators" it does not mean that child support won't be ordered.  JMC is merely a term in Texas.  It does not mean that the parents will have equal access to the minor child! Visitation is determined in the section of the legal document called "Possession Order".  

In Texas, the non-custodial parent can ask for an Expanded Possession Order for the child and see the child approximately 48% of the time.  It does not mean that child support won't be ordered.  

Co-parenting is a situation in which two unmarried parents essentially share custody of a child.  Each is responsible for equal amounts of responsibility and decision-making concerning a child's upbringing.  The general consensus is that children are at their best when they have an equal relationship with each parent, even when parents are not married or living in the same location.  The law views parenting as both a right and a duty, and in most cases when it is safe for the child, does all it can to allow a child to maintain a relationship with both parents.

Mediation can play a role in settling both custody and co-parenting issues.  When parents prefer to make decisions about their child’s well-being without interference from the court, mediation allows them to discuss the matter at hand and come to a legally binding resolution with less expense and without the invasive nature of taking the issue to court. 

I encourage people to use mediation to resolve their child issues.  For example, in Houston traffic does not move at 6pm on Fridays.  Therefore, I often recommend that the parents exchange at a different time to make the exchange of the child easier on everyone.  Mediation offers a lot of options to parents.  

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