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Custody & Visitation

One of the most sensitive areas of any family law case regards custody and visitation of children. Whether in a divorce or a SAPCR, this is the issue that generates the most confusion and concern among parents. It is also the most painful part of a family law case, as it is a sad fact that neither parent will be able to enjoy the same amount of time they had with a child before the divorce. However, Texas law provides many creative and innovative ways to divide parents’ time with a child in order to maximize time with each parent.

In Texas, parents in a divorce or SAPCR will be normally named as conservators of the child or children of a divorce or SAPCR. In Texas, custody is called “conservatorship” and parents are called “conservators.” The Courts prefer that parents come to an agreement on this issue but can certainly make the decision in contested matters. In general, the parents in a custody matter will be awarded joint conservatorship of a child. The Texas Family Code presumes that joint conservatorship is in the best interests of the child unless there is evidence to show otherwise. The court will consider the existing relationship between a parent and child, among other factors, but in general, the presumption is that joint conservatorship is in the child’s best interests. Joint conservatorship imbues each parent with more or less equal rights and duties to the child or children. These rights include a parent’s ability to consent to medical care, consult with teachers and doctors of the child, and attend school activities, among others. Joint conservatorship does not mean that visitation will be divided fifty- fifty. Visitation is ordered separately. In addition, one parent may be named as the primary conservator who has the exclusive right to decide where the child or children lives. Even in a joint custody arrangement, one parent may be ordered to pay child support. Call an experienced Austin custody attorney to discuss the details of your case.

The Court can also name one parent sole managing conservator, and the other parent possessory conservator if it determines that to be in the best interests of the child or children. In this scenario, one parent has certain exclusive rights and duties to the child that are not granted to the possessory conservator. However, in most cases, visitation, certain rights, and the duty of child support are included just as in a joint custody arrangement.

Possession / Visitation

There are several common visitation schedules used in Texas orders. Texas Law provides for a very specific visitation schedules in family law cases, referred to as the Standard Possession Order. This grants each parent specified times with the child or children exclusive of the other parent. In general, the Standard Possession Order allows the non-custodial parent visitation with a child over the age of three every first, third and fifth weekend of every month, from Friday until Sunday, plus every Thursday for a few hours. Summers, holidays, birthdays of the child or children, are all provided for. An Austin visitation attorney will answer the questions you may have in your particular case. Call DiafiLaw today to discuss your case.

The Court may grant an expanded visitation schedule, allowing possession from Thursday afternoon until Monday morning. The visiting parent can pick up and drop off the child or children directly from school or day care. This is very common in Texas courts.

Some courts will order a shared possession with each parent having possession of the child or children every other week. Another shared schedule is known as the 2-2-5, wherein one parent has the child or children from Monday through Tuesday, then the other parent has possession every Wednesday through Thursday, and then the parent’s alternate weekends. Call an Austin visitation attorney at DiafiLaw to discuss what plan would work best for your custody situation.

In any case, the Court will consider what visitation schedule will work best in the particular circumstances of each case, after hearing from the parties and their Austin visitation attorneys. Some schedules will not work because of logistics. For example, a week by week or 2-2-5 schedule would make sense with parents that lived close together and in the same school district, and who were able to co-parent peacefully. The same schedule, however, would be difficult to maintain and cause undue hardship on the children If parents live in different cities, or were unable to co-parent peacefully. Some schedules will not work if a case is hotly contested and it would benefit the children to avoid in person exchanges of the children. In such cases, the expanded standard might work best, as the visiting parent picks up and drops off at school and never has to interact with the other parent in front of the children. In extreme cases of parental hostility, the Court can order that the parents use a facility to exchange the child. Talk to an Austin visitation attorney at DiafiLaw to find out more about visitation in Texas cases.

Visitation is one area of a custody case that the Court encourages agreement among the parents. Visitation schedules can be crafted to fit a variety of circumstances. Call DiafiLaw to set a time to sit down with an Austin custody and visitation attorney to discuss your particular case, and determine what schedule would work best for you.