If you are facing a divorce in the State of Texas and have children, your legal rights with respect to your children may change. Shared custody can be a difficult thing to accept for parents who have always had full access to their children, but it an extremely common result in Texas divorce cases.
The Court’s Stance
The court’s stance on the issue of parental rights and responsibilities is that it is in the best interest of the children to spend a considerable amount of time with both parents (except in extreme situations). This also means that you and your spouse will likely share the rights and responsibilities of making important decisions in your children’s lives, including:
- Determining where and how they will be educated
- Managing their health care
- Managing their extracurricular activities
- Guiding their religious upbringing
These are all important components of your children's lives, and you and your divorcing spouse will probably continue to make decisions in these areas together.
Determining the Primary Residency of Your Children
Generally, one parent is the primary custodial parent, and the other parent has a visitation schedule. If you are the primary custodial parent, your children will live primarily in your home with you, and you will determine where that primary residency will be. There are, however, geographic restrictions that typically apply.
The Geographic Restrictions
While you will be able to make the decision about where you and your children will live post-divorce, geographic restrictions determined by the court apply. Generally, these restrictions include remaining in your home county – or in any county that borders your home county. This is the basic default setting of the court. If you want to expand these boundaries, you will need to either come to an agreement with your ex or convince the court that such a move is in your children’s best interests, which can be a difficult sell.
As the primary custodial parent, you will probably also be the parent who receives child support from the other parent. Texas determines that both parents are responsible for providing for their children financially, and because you provide them with their primary home and the majority of care, your portion of this responsibility is deemed fulfilled. As such, your children’s other parent will be required to pay a specific percentage of his or her income in support of your shared children.