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Child Custody and Visitation

Child Custody

In Texas, both parties are appointed joint managing conservators unless it is not in the best interest of the child or children. The parent who is appointed the primary joint managing conservator and whom the children will live with is the parent who has the responsibility for making day-to- day decisions. The other parent is also called a joint managing conservator and he or she will have visitation rights and will pay child support. The decisions for the children’s education, religion, and nonemergency medical care can be shared by the parents.

Shared Custody

In many cases, parents are able to come together and create an agreement for a shared custody arrangement. There is no one standard shared custody arrangement. Some parents set up a visitation schedule in which they have equal time with their children. Still others divide the children’s time unequally, but in a manner that meets the needs of that particular family. Under certain circumstances, even if the parties have an agreement, that agreement is subject to the Court’s approval. You should also keep in mind that the terms of any shared custody agreement will likely remain in place for several years. You should consult an attorney who has experience in the Court that your case is in and can help you to understand the long term impact that the specific terms of your agreement will have.

The rights and duties of most parents under the Texas Family Code are summarized below.

At all times each parent has the following rights:

  1. The right to receive information from the other parent concerning the health, education, and welfare of the child
  2. The right to confer with the other parent to the extent possible before making a decision concerning the health, education, and welfare of the child
  3. The right of access to medical, dental, psychological, and educational records of the child
  4. The right to consult with a physician, dentist, or psychologist of the child
  5. The right to consult with school officials concerning the child’s welfare and educational status, including school activities
  6. The right to attend school activities
  7. The right to be designated on the child’s records as a person to be notified in case of an emergency
  8. The right to consent to medical, dental, and surgical treatment during an emergency involving an immediate danger to the health and safety of the child
  9. The right to manage the estate of the child to the extent the estate has been created by the parent or the parent’s family
  10. The duty to inform the other parent in a timely manner of significant information concerning the health, education, and welfare of the child
  11. The duty to inform the other parent if living with a registered sex offender

During their respective periods of possession, the father and mother, as conservators, each have the following rights and duties:

  1. The duty of care, control, protection, and reasonable discipline of the child
  2. The duty to support the child, including providing the child with clothing, food, shelter, and medical and dental care not involving an invasive procedure
  3. The right to consent for the child to receive medical and dental care not involving an invasive procedure
  4. The right to direct the moral and religious training of the child

The following rights can be allocated exclusively to one parent, independently to both parents, or jointly between the parents:

  1. The right to designate the primary residence of the child
  2. The right to consent to medical, dental, and surgical treatment involving invasive procedures
  3. The right to consent to psychiatric and psychological treatment
  4. The right to receive and give receipt for periodic payments for the support of the child and to hold or disburse these funds for the benefit of the child
  5. The right to represent the child in legal action and to make other decisions of substantial legal significance concerning the child
  6. The right to consent to marriage and to enlistment in the armed forces of the United States
  7. The right to make decisions concerning the child’s education
  8. The right to the services and earnings of the child
  9. Except when a guardian of the child’s estate or a guardian or attorney ad litem has been appointed for the child, the right to act as an agent of the child in relation to the child’s estate if the child’s action is required by a state, the United States, or a foreign government.

Having an exclusive right or duty means that a parent can make the decision independently, and the other parent does not have the right to make that decision for the child. When the rights are awarded to both parents, either parent can make the decision. When the rights are allocated jointly between the parents, both parents have to agree on the decision that was made. When a case referred to as being a contested custody case, this basically means the parents are disputing which parent will have the right to designate the child’s residence and which parent will have a visitation schedule and pay child support. In some cases, the issue can be whether or not one parent’s visitation will have to be supervised, or in extreme cases, whether there will be visitation at all. Nothing in life is more precious than one’s own child. Nothing else can match the depth of the joy, satisfaction, love, excitement, and pride. It is not surprising to learn that well over half of all trials in the family courts are child custody suits.

When a case referred to as being a contested custody case, this basically means the parents are disputing which parent will have the right to designate the child’s residence and which parent will have a visitation schedule and pay child support. In some cases, the issue can be whether or not one parent’s visitation will have to be supervised, or in extreme cases, whether there will be visitation at all. Nothing in life is more precious than one’s own child. Nothing else can match the depth of the joy, satisfaction, love, excitement, and pride. It is not surprising to learn that well over half of all trials in the family courts are child custody suits.