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What Does a Typical Child Custody Arrangement Look Like?

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In a divorce, determining the custody arrangement for your child can be a long and stressful situation. There are many factors to consider to find a custody agreement that all parties involved can be happy with. It also needs to be what’s best for your child. When all is said and done, what exactly will a typical child custody arrangement look like? What kind of schedule will there be? And what rights do you have? What about child support? Here are answers to those questions so you can make the best decisions when determining a custody schedule for your child moving forward. 

The Basics of Child Custody

There are some basic things you should know about how child custody works in Texas. “Possession of a child” is defined as when a child is under the care of a parent. “Access to a child” is a broader term used to refer to any communication with the child, along with a parent appearing at activities. One parent typically has the majority of the possession time; however, there can be instances of “50/50 possession,” where time is split evenly between the two parents. You should consider agreeing on a schedule ahead of time; otherwise, the court can determine a schedule for you.

What is Standard Possession?

In the state of Texas, a judge will authorize any schedule the parents agree on as long as it’s in the best interests of the child. If the parents can’t agree on a schedule, the judge will then give a schedule to the parents. The most common custody agreements are known as “standard possession.” This is where both parents are viewed as “joint managing conservators,” with one parent maintaining the primary residence for the child while the other has possession on a very specific schedule.

In this case, they can have their child on Thursdays from 6:00pm to 8:00pm, on the first, third, and fifth Fridays through Sundays during the school year, 30 days of possession over the summer, alternating years for Spring Break and Thanksgiving, and split possession for Christmas break. If the parents don’t like the schedule, they should agree beforehand. They can also show the judge which alternative is better. The parents can stray from the schedule if it’s by mutual agreement; however, they must follow the court orders otherwise.

There’s also what’s known as an “extended standard order,” which gives the non-custodial parent two extra overnights with the child. This typically means that a weekend starts when the child gets out of school on Friday and ends when they go back to school on Monday. The midweek starts when a child gets out of school on Thursday. It ends when they go to school on Friday. Holiday possession starts when school lets out. 

What About Child Support?

Child support in Texas hinges on what the court determines is best for the child. The court must look at a variety of factors. These include physical and emotional needs, physical and emotional danger, and stability of the home. Other factors include plans for the child, cooperation between the parents, parenting skills, age of the child, geographic proximity, keeping siblings together, false accusations of abuse, and the fitness of each parent (including physical force, family violence, and abuse). Usually, the parent who maintains the primary residence for the child ends up being the recipient of child support. However, child support and visitation do not go hand-in-hand. If a child support payment is missed, visitation rights are not revoked or suspended by the parent or the court.

Can Any Of This Be Changed Later?

Just because a ruling on a custody agreement has been made does not mean it’s set in stone permanently. If necessary, you can have the ruling changed later on if certain criteria are met. The agreement can be changed if both parents agree to it or if the child is 12 years or older and wants to change their primary caretaker. Additionally, it can be changed if the primary caretaker relinquishes care and possession of the child for at least six months. Also, it can be changed in case of circumstances changing that affect the child, parent, the conservator, or another significant party.

The Family Law Attorneys at Hager Law Firm Can Help

While the court can determine a custody agreement, it’s better if you try to create an agreement before going to court. A standard agreement will lay out when exactly you can have custody of your child. If you feel there is something better for all parties involved, then you should present it to the court. When you’re ready to move forward with your child custody agreement or need help, the family law attorneys at Hager Law Firm can help. Contact us to schedule a consultation today. 

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