Joint Custody Work Explained

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Joint Custody Work Explained

You may have to negotiate a custody arrangement when divorcing or separating from a partner with whom you have children in Texas. Or, you may have to fight for your rights as a parent if your spouse or partner is trying to gain full custody of your children.

A court’s goal is to protect the best interests of the child. Texas family courts often prefer joint custody arrangements when such arrangements are practical. With joint custody, both parents continue to play an active role in raising their children.

Understanding Types of Custody in Texas

The legal term for custody in Texas is “conservatorship.” Texas law establishes the following types of common custody arrangements:

  • Joint managing conservatorships
  • Sole managing conservatorships
  • Possessory conservatorships

As the name implies, a joint managing conservatorship is the arrangement most similar to a traditional joint custody arrangement in other states.

How Does Joint Custody Work in Texas?

Someone who has custody or “conservatorship” over a child in Texas has the right to make various decisions about their upbringing. Under Texas law, specific rights and duties of a conservator include:

  • The right to reasonably discipline a child
  • The duty to care for, control, and generally protect a child
  • The duty to provide a child with shelter, feed a child, and generally provide a child with parental support
  • The right to consent to medical procedures and dental procedures on a child’s behalf (as long as the procedure is non-invasive)
  • The right to make decisions about a child’s moral and religious upbringing

With a joint managing conservatorship, both parents share these rights and duties. Such an arrangement typically requires each parent to work in a civil and productive manner with the other one as they co-parent a child despite no longer having a romantic relationship.

Courts may specify that one parent has certain rights that the other doesn’t. For example, even after establishing a joint managing conservatorship arrangement, one parent may have the right to decide where a child lives most of the time. Allowing one parent to make some major decisions can ensure a reasonably consistent and predictable lifestyle for a child.

What Happens if a Custodial Parent Doesn’t Show Up to Court?

Texas defines a custodial parent as a child’s managing conservator who decides where they live. A possessory conservator in Texas essentially has visitation rights. They’re a noncustodial parent, as they can’t decide where a child lives and may have limited or no rights in regard to making the types of important decisions a managing conservator would make.

Parents may have to appear in court for various reasons. For example, a custodial and noncustodial parent may have to appear in court for hearings regarding such issues as child support.

The consequences if a custodial parent doesn’t show up will depend on the nature of the hearing they missed. For example, if a custodial parent seeking child support doesn’t appear at a required hearing, the court may decide they don’t need to receive support. However, it’s essential to remember that courts will always make decisions that are best for the children in these cases.

How to Get Joint Custody Without Going to Court in Texas

Joint Custody Work ExplainedA Texas family court can decide custody arrangements when two parents can’t agree. That said, allowing a court to make these decisions on your behalf deprives you of the ability to exercise control over a custody arrangement. There’s no guarantee a court will make a decision that satisfies you.

You can negotiate a custody arrangement with the other parent before going to court. If it’s a valid and legally enforceable agreement, a court may determine it’s fair.

Discussing such sensitive topics with a soon-to-be ex may not be easy. If you’re unable to discuss them civilly, you may consider mediation before going to court. Hiring a qualified lawyer to represent you can also reduce stress.

Contact a Texas Child Custody Lawyer

At Higdon, Hardy & Zuflacht, L.L.P., we thoroughly understand that fighting for custody of your children can be an emotionally fraught experience. Our Texas child custody lawyers strive to make this experience less complex for all involved while aggressively fighting for you and your children’s rights.

All the partners at our firm are board-certified in family law. Less than one percent of attorneys in Texas can say they’ve earned this distinction. When you hire our firm, you get peace of mind knowing we’re qualified to serve you. Learn more about how we can help by contacting us online today to schedule your initial consultation or call us at (210) 349-9933 now.

Higdon, Hardy & Zuflacht, L.L.P. 12000 Huebner Rd #200 San Antonio, TX 78230 Telephone: (210) 349-9933 Fax: (210) 349-9988
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