FAQs About Texas Child Custody Laws

by J. Branden Snyder

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Texas child custody laws, child custody, Dallas child custody lawyer, Dallas family law lawyerIf you are not married to your child’s other parent, you may have questions about how child custody laws work in the State of Texas. Below are answers to a few of the most frequently asked questions about child custody.

What is conservatorship vs. possession and access?

The rights and responsibilities of a parent to make decisions on behalf of his or her child is known as conservatorship. These decisions may range from where the child will go to school to medical decisions. Sole Managing Conservatorship is when one parent is allowed to make all decisions concerning the child. Joint Managing Conservatorship is when both parents jointly make these decisions.

Possession and access refers to the physical custody of the child and visitation with the child. In Texas, there are two statutory possession and access schedules: standard and extended standard. The court will default to one of these schedules dictating the time each parent will spend with the child based on the best interest of the child, unless both parents agree on a different schedule based on their needs and the child’s needs.

When the child reaches 12 years of age, the court can consider the child’s wishes regarding which parent he/she would prefer to live with.

What factors will the court consider in determining custody?

Custody decisions are made based on the best interest of the child. Some factors the courts may consider include:

• physical and emotional needs of the child
• potential physical or emotional danger to the child
• stability of the home
• parenting skills
• keeping siblings together
• geographic proximity of the children
• any false reports of child abuse that one parent may have made against the other
• child’s preferences (if the child is over 12)

Can custody be modified?

Custody of a child can be modified if it is deemed to be in the best interest of the child and if one or more of the following conditions exists:

• both parents agree
• the child is 12 years old and tells the court he/she wants to live with the other parent
• the parent who was awarded primary custody/residence relinquishes care and possession of the child for at least six months
• there has been a substantial material or financial change in circumstances for the child or the parent.

Who pays child support?

Typically, the parent who is not awarded primary custody, or who has possession and access to the child the least amount of time is the parent who pays child support. If both parties agree on an equal possession and access schedule, neither parent may be required to pay child support. Visitation with the child cannot be denied on account of unpaid child support.

We do not handle divorce cases, but, if you are facing a child custody battle or other family law issues, contact The Law Offices of Tim O’Hare for a free consultation with one of our attorneys.  Regardless, we urge you to always do what is right by the child, and not put a child in the middle of a battle between yourself and the child’s other parent.  Show your child the right way to live, by example.

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