Conservatorship is the term for the parental rights and duties exercised by the party or parties who have custody of a child or children and can be a very contentious matter. A parent should fight for child custody only when it is in the child’s best interest that they do so. A parent’s selfish needs or desires to hurt the other spouse should not be a factor. Nor should a parent’s desires to collect child support. A Texas child custody lawyer can you help protect you and your child’s interest when it comes to child custody.
Be mindful that fighting for custody can often be expensive, time consuming and may even harm the child’s emotional health. If you choose to fight for custody, consider hiring a child custody lawyer to help you through the process.
CAN A CHILD DECIDE WHO HE OR SHE WILL LIVE WITH?
In Texas, a child who is 12 years or older can execute an affidavit stating who he or she wants to be their managing conservator. The purpose of this affidavit is to inform the judge of the child’s preference. It is not binding on the judge. The judge will determine what is in the best interest of the child and make a decision accordingly. Additionally, a child older than 12 may be allowed to confer with the judge about their preferred living arrangements. If your child wants to change residences, it is critical to speak with a Houston family law attorney.
HOW IS VISITATION USUALLY AWARDED?
Texas law presumes that a standard visitation schedule will be followed in most cases for children age 3 and older. A judge can deviate from the standard schedule with good cause and special allowances can be made for religious holidays.
Of course, parents can agree on custody arrangements that differ from the standard visitation schedule. In fact, parents are often encouraged to do so. Regardless of the visitation schedule written into the divorce decree, divorced parents can always agree to follow any workable schedule of visitation they feel is best for their child. Judges create possession orders to provide a definite visitation schedule in case parents cannot agree. Possession orders often serve as a “fall back” if you and your ex-spouse have complications with visitation after divorce. For example, your visitation may be going great but then your ex gets a new partner who does not like you spending time with your children. In this example, your spouse may attempt to prevent you from your visitation. Here lies the importance of having a well drafted visitation order to fall back on.
WHAT IS THE STANDARD POSSESSION ORDER?
The Texas Family Code provides a standard possession order for parents who live within 100 miles of each other. They also provide an order for parents living over 100 miles of each other. Supposing both parents reside within 100 miles of each other, the standard possession basically divides holidays evenly between both parents. This gives the parent with visitation at least two weekends a month, two hours on Thursdays during weeks not in possession, and 30 days during the summer.
VISITATION DURING SCHOOL HOLIDAYS
School holidays can extend a parent’s visitation. Under the standard possession order, if a parent has visitation on a weekend and the following Monday is a school holiday, then the period of visitation ends at 6:00 p.m. on Monday instead of Sunday. Likewise, if school is out on Friday, the weekend visitation starts at 6:00 p.m. Thursday instead of Friday.
CHILD CUSTODY ORDERS FOR PARENTS LIVING LESS THAN 100 MILES APART
In Texas, the standard child custody order for parents who live less than 100 miles apart, states that one parent will have visitation on the following schedule:
- Weekends starting at 6:00 p.m. on the first, third and fifth Friday of each month and ending at 6:00 p.m. on the following Sunday. (Under the expanded option visitation begins when school is dismissed on Fridays and return Monday to school).
- Thursdays during the school year starting at 6:00 p.m. and ending at 8:00 p.m. (Under the expanded option, Houston child custody lawyers can ensure the period begins when school ends and/or ends when school resumes the following Friday morning).
- From 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. on the child’s birthday. Fathers have possession for Father’s Day from 6:00 p.m. on the Friday before Father’s Day until 6:00 p.m. on Father’s Day. Mothers have the same period for Mother’s Day.
- In even-numbered years: Parent A has the child during Spring Break, Parent B has the child for Thanksgiving. Parent A has the child for Christmas from the time school lets out until noon on December 28th, and Parent B has possession from December 26 until 6 p.m. on the day before school resumes. In odd-numbered years, the holiday schedule is reversed. Custody lawyers in Houston, TX should be familiar with this regulation so agreement on such details can easily be reached.
- The parent with visitation has the child for 30 days during the summer. If that parent gives notice before May 1, he/she can designate the 30 days during the summer when he/she has possession in up to two separate periods of at least seven days. If no notice is given, he/she has possession from July 1 until July 31.
For additional questions or if you would like to discuss anything with our child custody lawyer, don’t hesitate to contact my Houston family law firm today at 832-875-7309 or by submitting an email from the home page.