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Child Custody Decisions

Perhaps the most important of many decisions parents face as they work through the divorce process is the decision regarding custody of their children. The decisions you make have a major impact on your children and their future. Parents who have custody of their children make decisions about residence, health care, everyday needs, and so much more.

Joint Custody vs. Sole Custody

The law in Texas requires courts to focus on what is in the best interests of the child and encourages parents to work towards creating an agreement that they believe is in the best interest of their child. Joint custody arrangements are encouraged since continuing a regular relationship with both parents is normally what is best for a child. Of course, there are times that it may be better for one parent to have sole custody of the child.

Some factors that a court would consider when determining whether sole custody may be more appropriate would include:

  1. Can a parent actually care for the child?
  2. Is there a history of abuse or neglect?
  3. Can a parent provide a stable, suitable home environment?
  4. Does a parent have a drug or alcohol problem?
  5. If the child is age 12 or older, does the child have a reasonable preference to be with one parent over the other?


Possession Schedules

A possession schedule refers to the schedule that is created so that there is predictability for the child as to what time will be spent with each parent. In Texas, there is a presumption that a standard possession schedule is in the best interest of the child. There is also a presumption that the judge will appoint one parent as primary parent and the other as possessory parent within a joint managing conservatorship under this schedule. Many people mistakenly think that a joint managing conservatorship means 50/50 time shared with the children. It does not. It means that the parents jointly share certain rights and duties regarding decisions about the children.

There are many options for crafting a customized possession schedule that works for all involved - parents and children. Working together during the stressful time of a divorce can be difficult, but I find that parents who decide to work through these issues within the collaborative divorce process learn helpful negotiation skills that serve them well post-divorce. As parents know, children's schedules between school, extracurricular activities, and sports are quite changeable as they grow. Learning how to adjust to life's changes during the divorce process can save a lot of time, stress, and money later on by giving parents the tools to communicate well and spend more time enjoying their children.