Joint custody arrangements allow both parents to spend ample amounts of time with their children, while providing legal authority in decisions relating to the children’s care and upbringing.
In general, children tend to do best when both parents are involved in their upbringing. Unfortunately, when couples are unmarried or are going through a divorce, child custody is often one of the most sensitive and hotly contested issues. Rather than battling over arrangements in which one parent has sole custody while the other has visitation, sharing joint custody allows both to continue playing an active and engaged role in the child’s life.
Under Chapter 153 of the Texas Family Code, it is the state’s policy in child custody matters to ensure that children have frequent and ongoing contact with each parent, provided it serves the child’s best interests. Rather than using the word ‘custody,’ the state refers to these matters as a conservatorship. There are two options available:
- Sole Conservatorship (SC): If a parent is appointed as a Sole Conservator, this means he or she has full custody of the children and legal authority in making decisions on their behalf regarding matters such as education, health, social activities, and religious upbringing. In this situation, the other parent would be entitled to visitation over weeknights, weekends, and certain holidays.
- Joint Managing Conservatorship (JMC): If awarded rights as a Joint Managing Conservator by the court, this means that custody and legal authority for decision making will be shared between both parents on an equal basis, as dictated by the specific circumstances involved.
There are numerous factors the court must consider before awarding JMC rights. These include the parent’s schedules, their geographical location to one another, and the current and previous role they have played in the child’s life. The court will also consider each parent’s ability to provide for the child’s physical, emotional, developmental, and financial needs, along with issues such as drug or alcohol abuse, domestic violence, or other dangerous behaviors that could put the child’s well being in jeopardy.
Sharing a joint managing conservatorship, or co-parenting as it is commonly known, is not something that always comes easy. It requires the parents to put the children’s needs before their own and to lay aside any personal disagreements or disputes they have with the other party. The Texas Attorney General offers these tips for making joint custody arrangements work:
- Be respectful when communicating with the other parent and avoid screaming, yelling, or rehashing arguments concerning your relationship.
- Be considerate in keeping your word, letting the other parent know about schedule changes or delays in advance.
- Avoid bad mouthing the other parent in front of your children, or using the children to relay messages.
At Scott M. Brown & Associates, we provide the professional, experienced legal representation you need in important matters pertaining to your children. Contact our Texas child custody lawyers and request a consultation in our Angleton, Pearland, or Houston office to discuss the options available in your situation today.