The Three Components of Texas Child Custody Decisions
It is important to ensure that the best interests of the children are served until they reach adulthood. That said, dealing with the legal issues that determine the relationships with and responsibility for the children can be very complex.
It is important to understand the three explicit legal issues involved in Texas child custody cases in order to formulate a parenting plan that helps to address the best interests of the children.
Custody Issues Involve Three Issues From a Legal Standpoint
As a dedicated and loving parent, you undoubtedly want to retain your pre-divorce relationship with your children. Of course, your soon-to-be ex-spouse feels the same way. Short of living together after divorce, parents must divide their time and efforts in some manner that serves the best interests of the children.
Texas law attempts to accomplish the best interests of the children by identifying three components that represent the responsibilities of parenthood:
- Conservatorship: Raising children involves many important decisions that include a myriad of issues such as education, religion, health issues, emergency decisions and many more. Naturally, many decisions will fall on the parent who cares for the children at any given moment. Regardless of where the children live, however, both parents might be required to jointly make major decisions. On the other hand, it is also possible that the divorce decree will assign these responsibilities to one parent alone.
- Possession: As a general rule, all children reside with one parent; however, it is possible for parents to share possession (often called physical custody), such as might be the case if the parents choose to reside near enough to each other so as to minimize the disruption to the children. The law gives no automatic preference to one parent over the other.
- Access: Regardless of where the children make their primary homes, the non-residential parent generally has the right to see the children regularly. Often known as visitation, the law provides certain recommended visitation schedules, but the parents can formulate their own scheduling options as appropriate, with court approval. Of course, the law can also prohibit or limit parental contact when safety is at issue.
Texas courts encourage parents to devise their own parenting plan that delineates the seemingly-countless details that define these three components. While judges can use set recommended schedules to come up with every detail of how parents will share time with the children, those schedules seldom meet the precise needs of the entire family. In many cases, parents who are willing to put their personal issues aside to create a valid plan can find ways to best meet the needs of the entire family.
When Deciding Child Custody, Every Family Has Distinct Issues
During times when divorcing parties may not always agree on simple issues, formulating a detailed parenting plan can be challenging, to say the least. While there are certainly times when arrangements must be left to judicial decision, helping parents work through the countless complex issues is what skilled Dallas child custody attorneys do best.
The first step toward determining the future of the entire family involves discussing your unique issues with a knowledgeable and compassionate attorney. To develop the most appropriate strategy based on your specific circumstances, we invite you to contact us to schedule an initial consultation.