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Understanding Custody and Visitation in Texas

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Like anywhere else, custody is a serious concern among parents in Texas. A judge has the power to issue custody to one or both parents. It is never easy to be involved in a custody battle, especially when you are concerned about the welfare of your child.
If you find yourself facing a custody dispute, you need to know what types of custody are available to you in Texas. You may have options you have yet to consider.

Types of Custody

There are multiple types of custody that may be applicable to your situation.

In joint legal custody, the child resides with one parent, and the other parent is granted visitation. The word joint refers to decision-making abilities shared by the parents. You may not have equal physical custody, but you can both make legal decisions.
Shared custody means that the child has two residences, living with one parent for 35% of the year or more. Parents share legal custody rights in addition to physical access to the child.
Finally, there is split custody. It is not a common arrangement, but it does occur on occasion. It allows each parent to be awarded full custody of at least one child each when multiple children are involved.
The type of custody you seek may be based on a number of factors, including the other parent's ability to provide a solid environment for the child.

Conservatorship

Since 1995, Texas courts have ruled that barring domestic violence or other detriment, both parents may be joint conservators of children in a custody dispute. This means that each parent has the right to consent to medical treatment and the right to represent the child in any legal situation. The conservators can make other legal decisions for the child related to marriage, education, estate and so on.

Rights of the Primary Parent

It is important to remember that joint managing conservatorship is not the same as joint custody, nor does it indicate a 50% split of physical custody. There is still one parent considered the primary parent who receives child support and establishes a primary residence for the child.
The primary parent is typically the person who makes decisions for the child and also has the most physical access.

Rights of the Non-Primary Parent

The non-primary parent has several rights as well. He or she has the right to receive information about health, education and general welfare. They have access to records and can consult with medical providers. They have the right to attend school activities, be notified in case of an emergency and manage a child's estate to some extent.

Judge Considerations in Custody

When it comes to assessing the custody situation, the judge will typically examine the best interests of the child. This means that he or she evaluates the home environment of each parent as well as the parent's ability to act as a caretaker. The judge will consider how well the parents will be able to work together and how their financial situations fare.
Additionally, the judge considers the employment situation of the parents, assessing how many hours the parent may be available for the child. The judge typically doesn't want to send a child to a house that will be empty most of the time.
If the child is at least 12 years old, the judge may also take the child's preference into account when making a determination.
The Law Office of Cicily Simms provides help when you need representation in a custody case. Custody disputes can get ugly, and you certainly don't want to go it alone. You have legal rights as a parent, and hiring a lawyer can help ensure that you retain them. 

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  • AV Preeminent | Peer Rated for Highest Level of Professional Excellence | 2018
  • Texas Family Law Foundation
  • Texas Academy of Family Law Specialists | Dedicated Professionals Serving Texas Families
  • Board Certified | Texas Board of Legal Specialization | Family Law
  • Texas Academy of Family Law Specialists | 1984

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The Law Office of Cicily Simms

The Law Office of Cicily Simms
707 West 10th St.
Austin, TX 78701

Phone: 512-477-6462
Fax: 512-494-1895
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