When parents get divorced, their child custody arrangements can become quite complicated. If you are involved in a child custody dispute – or in any legal dispute that affects the custody of your child – you must be advised and represented by the right San Marcos child custody lawyer.
Under Texas law, when a court order has been issued regarding a child’s custody, the legal term for custody is “conservatorship,” and someone with the court-ordered custody of a child is called a conservator. Texas law has established three types of conservatorships:
- Joint Managing Conservatorships
- Sole Managing Conservatorships
- Possessory Conservatorships
What Happens in Most Texas Child Custody Cases?
In most child custody cases, having a relationship with both parents is presumed to be in the child’s best interests, so Texas courts will usually name both parents as joint managing conservators, unless there has been a history or pattern of family violence by one of the parents, or a demonstrated pattern of behavior by one parent that puts the child’s emotional or physical well-being in danger (such as neglect or abuse).
A joint conservatorship, however, does not necessarily mean that the child’s time is split fifty-fifty between the parents. When a court orders a joint managing conservatorship, the parents may have to spell out in detail their schedules and how much time they can spend with the child.
How Can Your Work Schedule Affect a Child Custody Decision?
Particularly those who work in healthcare, law enforcement, and a number of other occupations may be scheduled to work night shifts, split shifts, weekends, and holidays. In many such cases, a court may designate the parent with the more traditional work schedule as the custodial parent.
A busy parent may be asked by the court if work will interfere in any way with parental duties. The courts in Texas do not seek to penalize hard-working parents with challenging careers, but the courts ask these questions to make sure that the child’s best interests come first.
What Must Be Considered in a Parenting Plan?
An uncertain or unbalanced custody plan and parenting schedule is never in a child’s best interests. As far as possible, every child should have a dependable routine and a parenting plan that meets the needs of everyone involved, including their scheduling needs.
However, for many families, resolving a scheduling conflict is not easy. Parents must consider schedules, transportation, locations, vacations, holidays, and if the child is old enough, the child’s own preferences.
When developing a schedule for when the child will live with which parent, factors including work obligations, travel distances, and the ages of the children should all be taken into account. The right San Marcos child custody attorney will help you develop the plan that works best for your family.
How Do Conservatorships Work?
In a joint managing conservatorship, parents share the responsibility of making choices for their child, but one parent is often designated as the “custodial” parent.
In a sole managing conservatorship, one parent has the sole authority to make choices for the child. A sole managing conservatorship is typically ordered by the court only when one parent’s fitness is questionable or if one parent is significantly absent from the child’s life.
If one parent is designated by the court as the sole managing conservator, the other parent is sometimes named the “possessory” conservator, and that other parent may be allowed restricted or supervised visitations.
Parents with unconventional jobs or schedules should know that if you are fit as a parent in all other respects, simply having an inconvenient job schedule alone does not indicate unfitness or prevent you from being named as a joint managing conservator or even, in some cases, as a sole managing conservator.
How Do You Create a Parenting Schedule?
To develop a parenting plan that is in a child’s best interests, parents should try to work together. When they can know their work schedules in advance, the plan can incorporate those schedules, but for parents who can be called to work at any time, it helps if the other parent can be flexible.
When parents cannot agree to a schedule, there is no reason for frustration or acrimony. A Texas child custody attorney who has experience developing parenting plans can work with both of you to come up with a solution.
How Will the Right Attorney Help?
Family law attorneys routinely provide this advice and know how to find the answers you need. A proper parenting plan:
- designates the child’s primary residence
- spells out each parent’s obligations and duties
- organizes the child’s daily routine and activities with minimal disruption
- promotes the child’s long-term best interests
If you’re divorcing in Texas, or if you’re involved in any dispute regarding child custody or your parenting plan, get the legal advice you need, and get in touch right away with an experienced and trustworthy San Marcos child custody lawyer. Having a good lawyer’s help is your right.