Child Custody & Visitation
Child custody & visitation
Child custody refers to the legal obligation and right a parent or guardian has to care of, make decisions for, supervise, educate and control a minor child for whom he/she is responsible. The issue of child custody may arise in any of the following situations: when a married couple with a minor child of the marriage seeks a divorce; when two unmarried parents of a minor child cannot come to an agreement about custody outside of court; when a parent or legal guardian is found to be unfit or dangerous for the child’s well-being by a court or state agency; and when either or both parents are absent or deceased.
Custody is not limited to the child’s parent, but can also be awarded to other family members, to a foster parent, or to other organizations or institutions.
Texas uses the term "conservatorship" as opposed to custody. There are two main types of conservatorship, sole or joint, and each one deals with the rights and responsibilities of a parent including, who can make decisions about major issues in the child’s life, and who has the right to decide where the child resides. An award of joint managing conservators makes it necessary for the responsible parties to communicate and work with one another to share in these decisions. Whereas, an award of sole managing conservator provides one parent with the decision-making power.
In addition to conservatorship, Texas addresses visitation. The presumption is that the noncustodial parent will have visitation per the Standard Possession Order or the Expanded Standard Possession Order, but it is not uncommon for parents to operate under a 50/50 visitation schedule or a modified version of the standard schedule.
Regardless of whether the parties are in agreement with the terms surrounding conservatorship and visitation, it is Texas policy that child custody arrangements and awards must be based upon the best interest of the child. Courts also reserve the right to modify custody arrangements when the circumstances call for it.