What is Joint Custody in TX?
Filing for Shared Custody
Going through a divorce can be a stressful process; you not only have to deal with the emotional toll of divorcing your spouse, but you also have to deal with the practical aspects. Issues like dividing assets, financial obligations, and — if you have children — determining custody rights are all critical issues that need to be addressed in a divorce. All this can be confusing, and you may have questions. If you are planning to file for joint custody in your divorce, it is important that you seek the counsel of an experienced attorney from Holmes, Diggs & Sadler so that we can ensure the process goes smoothly.
When going through a divorce, you have a lot to lose. You and your spouse may not agree on custody rights or on things like how to raise your child. Knowing how to proceed with a divorce and protect your parental rights can be confusing, which is why you need someone who is going to fight for you.
Our team of high-qualified attorneys has decades of experience helping people navigate divorce and custody matters. Ensuring a healthy environment for your children is of paramount importance, and we can help you with your joint custody proceedings.
What are the Joint Custody Laws in Texas?
Texas courts favor joint custody. Joint custody means giving both parents access to the child and allowing them to share in the decision-making process for the child’s upbringing. In Texas, a parent who is allowed some sort of custody rights is called a conservator.
According to the Texas Family Code, Title 5, §153.001, it is the public policy of the state of Texas to:
- Assure that children will have frequent and continuing contact with parents who have shown the ability to act in the best interest of the child;
- Provide a safe, stable, and nonviolent environment for the child; and
- Encourage parents to share in the rights and duties of raising their child after the parents have separated or dissolved their marriage.
While it is the preference of Texas courts to grant joint custody, according to Texas Family Code, Title 5, §153.002, ultimately “the best interest of the child shall always be the primary consideration of the court in determining the issues of conservatorship and possession of and access to the child.”
How Are Custody Arrangements Determined?
The court is allowed great discretion when determining custody arrangements. Some factors the court will consider in making its custody decision include, but are not limited to the following:
- The child’s wishes
- The current and future emotional and physical needs of the child
- Any current or possible future emotional and physical dangers to the child
- The parenting abilities of each parent
- The programs available to each parent to promote the best interest of the child
- The plans of each parent for the child
- The stability of the proposed home for the child
- Any acts or failures to act by the parent that may indicate a parent is unfit and an explanation of this behavior
Types of Joint Custody
When a court decides to grant joint custody, it can mean a few different things. Joint legal custody means that the child primarily resides with one parent, but both parents still share decision-making responsibilities in raising the child. In this situation, the parent who does not house the child still enjoys visitation.
There is also something commonly referred to as split custody, in which there are at least two children and each parent is awarded full custody of at least one child. This is rarely granted by courts, but the parents may agree this is appropriate for their children.
The court’s decision about what type of custody arrangement the parents have, as well as the particular needs of the children, may affect a child support order. When determining child support, the judge has general guidelines that are based on the number of children before the court to be supported and monthly net income of the parent ordered to pay child support.
A judge may deviate from these guidelines when considering certain factors, such as the following:
- The age and needs of the child
- Provisions for health insurance and unpaid medical expenses
- What the custody arrangement is and each parents’ time of possession of the child
- If the child has extraordinary medical expenses or other expenses
- Resources available for support
- Spouse’s earning capacity if intentionally unemployed or under-employed
- Cash flow from real or personal property or investments
- Debts assumed by the other party
- Other paycheck deductions
- Benefits, such as a house or car that one spouse received
- Any reason in consideration of the child’s best interest
Ultimately, when deciding custody rights and financial obligations, the best interest of the child is the top priority.
Child custody issues can become contentious as divorcing parents allow their emotions to overtake their practicality. In such a stressful situation, with so much to lose, you need a strong advocate by your side. That’s why Holmes, Diggs & Sadler is here to help.
At Holmes, Diggs & Sadler, we have over 25 years of experience helping divorcing parties in Texas sort out their child custody issues. Whether you can come to an agreement about your child custody rights without the intervention of a judge or you need someone to represent you in a court, we are here to help. We understand that parents have unique bonds with their children, and they want to stay close to their children even though they may need to get divorced. We will make it our mission to make the joint custody process as easy as possible so that you can get on with your life.
Call us today at (713) 766-5355.
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