For many parents with children, finding an arrangement that’s best for the children is one of the most important things. Thankfully, joint child custody in Texas is one of the many types of custody available. Alongside joint custody, there are legal custody, physical custody, and sole custody. A parent holds legal custody of a child when they have the right to make legal decisions concerning the child without another party’s involvement. These decisions range from schooling to religion. Physical custody refers to a situation where one parent is allotted equal visitation time with the other parent. There are two types of sole custody: sole legal custody and sole physical custody. Both types of custody in Texas allow a single parent to have the full custodianship over their child. However, sole legal custody is rarely ever awarded in Texas.
Compared to these types of custody, Texas favors joint custody. It allows both parents to be a part of their child’s life equally. Though joint custody is the most common resolution following a separation, joint custody laws are difficult to understand.
What is Joint Custody in Texas?
In Texas, joint custody is the most picked option after two parents have a divorce. This is, of course, unless one parent is unfit for childcare due to abuse, substance abuse, or domestic violence. Joint child custody in Texas is actually a joint legal conservatorship. There are many factors that play into how it is carried out. Typically, joint custody awards one parent with primary conservatorship, allowing that parent to choose the child’s primary residence as well as receive child support payments. Sometimes the parent awarded this role is referred to as the joint custody primary parent or the primary parent in joint custody.
While a child may not live with one parent, the parent who is not awarded primary conservatorship still has the legal right to make decisions concerning their child’s school, religious worship, and a host of other decisions. In Texas joint custody situations, both parents must both be on the same page about making decisions for their child. Alongside the right to make decisions on behalf of their child, a parent whom isn’t awarded primary conservatorship is given the privilege of visitation in most cases.
Visitation with Joint Custody
Joint child custody in Texas usually comes with the stipulation that the parent not awarded with primary conservatorship will get visitation time with their child. In general, parents will follow a possession order, which allows the non-primary conservator to see their child when the primary conservator agrees to a time. Most people who go through divorces choose this option in order to remain flexible. However, if the primary conservator doesn’t let the non-primary conservator see their child, a family court may rule in favor of a standard possession order.
A standard possession order guarantees the non-primary conservator the right to exercise visitation time based on a set schedule. In Texas, primary conservator parents must allow the other parent to visit on the 1st, 3rd, and 5th weekend of a month. Non-primary conservator parents are also allowed to see their children on Thursday evenings during school time and 30 days during the summer months as well as alternating holidays. However, it may be the case that parents live further than 100 miles apart. In this case, the weekend visitation time stays the same as if the parents lived within 100 miles of each other, but may reduce to once a month. Non-primary conservators who live more than 100 miles apart from their child also don’t get midweek visits on Thursday, but holiday visitation still alternates between parents, and visitation time is increased to 42 days during the summer.
Join Custody and Possession Orders
There are many ways to receive a possession order when both parents are awarded joint custody in Texas. It’s most common to receive a possession order during a divorce case, however, there are other ways to get one if necessary. After a divorce, it’s still possible to file for a possession order. The reasons many people file for possession orders after a divorce include:
- family violence
- confirmation of fatherhood or motherhood
- or parent-child relationship case
In cases of family violence, a judge issues protective order. This will allow possession of a child, even though the parent possessing the child may not be the primary conservator. It’s also possible to receive a possession order after a parent shows they are the biological mother or father. In the state of Texas, the mother of a child generally receives sole custodianship of a child following divorce. This means that the father must prove paternity to get joint custody and ultimately a possession order. Parents may also go to family court mutually for a possession order if they didn’t get one after a divorce.
Joint Custody and Child Support
When two parents enter joint child custody in Texas, one parent may be responsible for making child support payments. The person obligated to make child support payments is the parent who didn’t receive primary conservator status. This typically means that the parent who pays child support doesn’t live with their children. In Texas, it’s illegal for the primary conservator to withhold visitation from the other parent for missed child support payments. However, missing child support payments can lead to legal consequences. Parents who don’t make child support payments are held in contempt and may face up to 6 months in jail. If the court determines that the child support nonpayment was intentional, then a judge can rule up to 2 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine. It’s also possible that not making child support payments may result in the revocation of your licences including:
- driver’s licenses
- concealed handgun licenses
- and hunting licenses.
Family Law Attorney for Joint Custody Cases
Though you have read about a lot about joint custody in Texas, there is so much more information. Joint custody laws can get burdensome, so why not trust a professional to make sure your child gets the best and you stay informed? Illaraza Law has been working in the family law practice for many years, and we not only understand the ins-and-outs of family law, we also understand the importance of a child to their parent. We can assist you in making the right decisions for you and your child.