10 Things to Know About TX Child Custody

10 Things to Know About TX Child Custody

Child Custody in Webster, TX

Child custody laws can differ from state to state. What happens in Texas? Get everything you need to know about TX child custody here.

Are you a Texas parent looking for information on child custody laws in your state? These rules and regulations can directly affect your family, so it’s important to know the facts.

With so much misinformation swirling on the internet, you might not know where to turn to get the unbiased, factual information you need. Our legal team is here to help.

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Today, we’re sharing 10 important things to know about TX child custody, support, and visitation.

1. Mothers and Fathers Have the Same Rights

Texas Family Code, Chapter 151 defines how the state views the parent-child relationship. According to this text, both mothers and fathers are referred to by the universal term “parents”. This means that they both have equal rights and responsibilities toward their children under the law.

This includes the right to have physical possession of the child, direct their moral and religious training, and designate their residence, among other allowances.

2. Conservatorship vs Possession and Access

In Texas, most child custody issues fall into one of two categories:

  1. Conservatorship (custody)
  2. Possession and access

Conservatorship covers the parents’ basic rights and responsibilities. For instance, they each have a right to make decisions regarding the child’s medical services, education, and more.

Possession and access, on the other hand, refers to physical custody of a child, or a parent/child visitation. In this state, there are two schedules that determine how much time a parent can spend with their child: standard and extended standard schedules. Most custody orders follow a Standard Possession Order (SPO) that outlines how much time each parent will spend with the child.

3. Parents Are Designated as Joint Managing Conservators

In the event that a child’s parents divorce, then state law presumes that both parents should be designated as “joint managing conservators”.

In short, this means that they will collaborate on decision-making matters that pertain to their child. Note that this law covers decision-making only and does not require the child to split their time between parents.

In some cases, a judge will designate one parent as the “sole managing conservator”. Usually, this role is reserved for instances in which there is evidence of family violence or the other parent is absent.

4. Possession and Access Schedules Can Change

Under the law, parents can agree on different possession and access schedules if they need to make adjustments. Moreover, the court can also determine a different schedule based on the best interest of the child.

If the latter occurs, then the court will take a few key factors into consideration. Among others, these include:

  • The child’s physical and emotional requirements
  • The child’s proximity to physical and emotional danger
  • Parents’ future plans for the child
  • The overall stability of the home
  • The overall fitness and competency of each parent
  • The child’s personal preference (if at least 12 years old)
  • Potential instances of sibling separation

They will also use these factors to determine if child support payments are in the best interest of a child. In most cases, the parent who has primary possession and access to the child or whose residence is designated as the primary living space will receive child support.

5. You Can File a SAPCR

Do you want to change a child support ruling? To get a court order for child support, custody, or visitation, you’ll need to file a document titled a Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship (SAPCR).

Texas Family Code, Chapters 102 and 103, outline who can file a SAPCR and the steps required to do so. Here, you’ll also find venues that accept SAPCRs so you know where to file the suit.

6. There Are Four Ways to Get a Custody Order

A judge can order custody or conservatorship rights based on four different types of cases. These include:

  • Divorce cases
  • Paternity cases
  • SAPCR cases
  • Family violence protective order cases

7. Custody Does Not Determine Child Support

As mentioned, the court will consider the best interest of a child when determining if child support payments are necessary. However, it’s important to keep in mind that child support and custody are not interdependent.

This means that a parent cannot refuse visitation rights to another parent in the absence of a child support payment. The same rules apply to the court.

8. Children Must Be 12 to Voice Wishes

Once a child reaches 12 years old, the Texas courts will consider their wishes and opinions when determining the guidelines surrounding a conservatorship or their primary residence.

While the court will listen to this feedback and take it into consideration, a child’s decision cannot be the only factor that determines who they live with. For instance, if a child turns 12 and tells a judge that they want to change their primary caretaker, then the judge will issue a custody modification only if the following factors also hold true:

  • Both parents agree
  • The person with primary residency determination rights abdicates care and possession of the child for at least six months
  • There is a major, material change in the circumstances of the child, parent, conservator, or another key party

Usually, the latter point is the one argued most frequently. Claiming that a major change has occurred in your circumstances is a broad statement that you can solidify with various forms of evidence.

9. You Need a Parenting Plan

Some states call them custody agreements, but in Texas, they’re parenting plans. These are detailed plans that explain to the court exactly how parents will work together to make decisions about and for their child.

Usually, a court will require each parent to present their proposed plan. Even if your case does not require one, it’s still in your best interest to prepare it. If all parties agree to the terms proposed, then the judge will include them in a court order to make them legally enforceable.

10. Legal Support Is Essential

While you could approach a TX child custody case on your own, we don’t recommend it. These cases are often complex and complicated, and it’s important to know your rights and obligations.

It’s especially important to seek legal counsel if any of the following holds true:

  • You’re concerned about your child’s safety
  • Your case is contested (disagreed upon)
  • Your child has a disability
  • The other parent is represented by a lawyer

Our legal team is well-versed in all matters of TX family law. Once we learn the specifics of your case, we’ll take the time to develop a comprehensive strategy that can help this process go as smoothly as possible.

Learn More About TX Child Custody

The points above can help you learn more about TX child custody laws. However, they are by no means exhaustive. Each case is unique and will include different factors to consider and options to weigh.

If you’re gearing up for a custody trial, our team of experienced attorneys can help. Contact us today for a consultation and let’s take this next step together.

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