While the Courts prefer that the parents make an agreement for custody and visitation, however, if parents cannot agree, then the Court will issue an order based on what the Court determines to be “in the best interest of the child.” This is the Court’s primary concern.
- Age and sex of the child
- Relationship between the parents and the child (and siblings, if any) The capacity to provide for the child including food, clothing, medical care and other necessary care
- The age, physical and mental health, stability, character of the parents
- The preferences of the child, if the court deems the child physically and mentally mature enough to make such decisions (usually age 12)
- Evidence of abuse or domestic violence
- Who has been the primary care provider for the child
- Special needs of the child
- Plus any other relevant factors
The Texas Family Code and therefore the courts make a presumption that “joint custody” also known as “joint managing conservatorship” is in the child’s best interests. This does not mean each parent gets equal time with the children, it simply means that each parent has an equal say on major decisions regarding the children’s welfare and the children’s time is divided between the parties. Although joint conservatorship is favored, if it is in the best interest of the child, the court may order sole conservatorship in favor of one parent. This occurs when a parent has committed family violence, if the parties are unable to co-parent the child or is alienating the child or, if giving the parties equal rights to make decisions is not desirable.
When possible, the parties should try to establish a visitation schedule that fits their individual needs and works with both parties and, more importantly, the children. If the parents cannot agree on a schedule, the Texas Family Code presumes that it is in the best interest of the child to enter a “Standard Possession Schedule”. This schedule permits for weekend visitation, a couple of hours on one weeknight, alternating holiday visitation and summer visitation.
There are two common possession schedules including a Standard Possession Order and Expanded Standard Possession. There are also numerous creative schedules that accommodate unusual work schedules. Our experienced family lawyers can assist in drafting a creative schedule that accommodates your family.
The Attorneys at the Law Office of Diane St. Yves are skilled at drafting a parenting plan that creatively fits your individual situation. Contact our office today at 281-501-1558 to get an evaluation of your case or fill in our contact form on this page.
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