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Agreeing with Your Spouse on Child Custody in Texas

Divorce in Texas with children involved can often be a very trying and difficult process. Bearing this in mind, the Texas legislature has already carefully considered the best solution for custody, visitation, and child support.

In divorce, couples who have children involved often have difficulty agreeing with their spouse on child custody issues. The fact is, the Texas Family Code has outlined very specific requirements for determining child custody in Texas. Though couples often argue about custody, visitation, and child support issues when going through a divorce, most of the time these issues have already been decided for you according to the laws in Texas.

Divorce in Texas with children involved can often be a very trying and difficult process. Bearing this in mind, the Texas legislature has already carefully considered the best solution for custody, visitation, and child support. The laws as they are written are presumed by all Texas courts to be in the best interest of your children. This means that no matter how much you and your spouse have argued over who will have visitation when, or how much one parent with pay in child support, there are already laws on the books that have pre-determined what is almost always in the best interest of your children. Typically, Texas divorce courts will follow these laws as outlined in the Texas Family Code.

In Texas, it is always presumed to be in the best interest of children for both parents to be named Joint Managing Conservators. This means both parents are given equal rights to the children. However, one parent must be given the “exclusive right to determine the residence” of the children. This means that one parent will be the primary conservator, while the other parent has a very specific visitation schedule. This makes child custody issues after divorce easier on the children involved, and allows parents to share an equal role with their children. The only circumstances where this would not be the case would be in instances of domestic violence, child abuse, or other extenuating circumstances that would make a court find that giving one parent equal rights is not in the best interest of the children.

Divorce in Texas with children also requires that the court order a very specific visitation schedule. Although the parents can agree to visitation that is not written in their divorce decree, the divorce decree must contain a visitation schedule that outlines which parent the children will be with at all times. In determining the best arrangement for child custody in Texas, the Texas legislature also came up with a very specific visitation schedule called the Standard Possession Schedule. This schedule allows for the non-primary parent to have visitation with the children every other weekend, each Thursday evening, alternating holidays, and up to thirty days in the summer.  There is a presumption that this schedule is in the best interest of the children involved in a divorce. This means that even if parents come up with another visitation arrangement, the court may still order the Standard Possession Schedule, because they feel it allows the best schedule for the children involved. 

Additionally, the Texas Family Code has a very specific formula for determining child support. This is called the statutory guidelines for child support in Texas. Typically, the non-primary parent will be ordered to pay 20% of his or her net earnings (after taxes are deducted) for one child, 25% for two children, 30% for three children and so on. The non-primary parent is also ordered to maintain health insurance for the children or bear the cost of insurance. Child custody in Texas is very specific regarding these child support amounts and most courts will not deviate from these amounts.

Texas divorce courts must always consider first what is in the best interest of the children involved in any divorce.  In some circumstances, such as abuse or other extenuating circumstances, the court will veer from all of the guidelines given in the Texas Family Code. However, it is rare that courts will deviate from these guidelines. So although you and your spouse may be spending many hours arguing over what is best for your children after your divorce, it may all be a lost cause. Child custody in Texas, along with visitation and child support, have typically already been decided for you.

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