In the State of Texas, child custody is officially called conservatorship, but this does not stop parents and attorneys alike from continuing to use the term child custody. If you are a parent facing a divorce, you very likely have thoughts about joint custody. In Texas, however, this can mean different things to different people, which makes it a good idea to take a closer look.
Joint Custody: Very Generally
Texas statutes do not address the concept of joint custody – as mentioned – but when parents refer to joint custody, they generally mean dividing their parenting time equally or very nearly equally. While there is no legal name for this approach to child custody in Texas, there is nothing stopping parents from hammering out a custody arrangement modeled after this joint custody approach.
The Court’s Motivation
When the court makes decisions regarding child custody, it is always motivated by what it considers to be the best interests of the children. The prevailing wisdom on this issue – barring a compelling reason for believing otherwise – is that children’s best interests are served when they are allowed to continue fostering deep, meaningful relationships with both parents (by spending a significant amount of time with each). In other words, what you think of as joint custody is not necessarily out of reach.
The Primary Custodial Parent
A traditional route that courts often adopt in child custody cases is naming one parent as the primary custodial parent. The primary custodial parent is the parent with whom the children make their primary residence, while the other parent has a visitation schedule. Because the court is motivated by the best interests of the children and because maintaining the status quo is often considered preferable (given the general upheaval of divorce), the court may be inclined to keep your children home with a primary custodial parent in an effort to help make the divorce transition less disruptive.
Many parents are under the mistaken belief that splitting their time with their children equally negates the need for child support, but this is not how it works. Child support payments are predicated on all the following factors:
- Both parents’ responsibilities to support their children financially
- Each parent’s income
- The number of overnights each parent spends with the children
- Any additional factors that the court deems relevant
Generally, the parent with a visitation schedule pays child support to the primary custodial parent. Even, however, if you and your ex split your time with your children evenly – down to the minute – the higher earner among you will very likely be required to pay child support to the other (in support of your shared children’s best interests).
Read more about visitation
- Creating a Holiday Visitation Schedule that Works for You
- Summer Visitation: Understanding the Texas Family Code
An Experienced Killeen Divorce Attorney Can Help
Brett Pritchard at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard in Killeen, Texas, understands the gravity of your child custody concerns and is fully committed to helping you find a favorable resolution. To learn more, please do not hesitate to contact or call us at 254-501-4040 today.