“Joint custody” in Houston, Texas is a very broad term. It doesn’t necessarily mean a 50 / 50 split of actual possession of the children. It is a form of child custody arrangement that addresses how certain rights and duties when it comes to raising their children are assigned as well as how time with the children is divided.
Even in a very equal ruling, the split may be closer to 53/47, with the primary or custodial parent getting 53% of the time with the child and receiving child support.
How the rights and duties and possession schedule are decided is a matter of each individual case, but is often a variation of the standard possession order. Parents who have less custody of their child (or are named as the “Possessory Conservator” per the Texas Family Code) are often ordered to pay child support, exercise a possession order schedule and may have less rights and duties than the other parent (the Primary Conservator).
The opposite of joint custody is “sole custody,” where one parent retains all exclusive rights regarding their kids. The courts don’t like to award sole custody unless there is a very good reason. For example, a history of substance abuse or neglect.
How Is Custody Decided?
It is important to understand that, no matter how much you dislike your ex, and no matter how messy the divorce is, these things by themselves don’t necessarily mean that sole custody is a good outcome for the kids. Instead, when making decisions on sole or joint custody in Houston, Texas, the courts look at the best interest of the children. Some of the most important questions include:
- Can each parent take care of the kids, both physically and financially? (If you have been a stay-at-home parent, don’t worry: This isn’t necessarily a deal breaker; you might be awarded spousal maintenance to give you time to reenter the workforce.)
- Will the kids have a safe and stable home with each parent?
- Has each parent been involved in their children’s lives so far?
- Will the kids’ daily lives be severely disrupted in some way (for instance, by moving far away)?
- What arrangement do the children themselves desire (if they are 12 years or older)?
- Is either parent dangerous or a bad influence on the kids?
- Is each parent willing to accept that the kids might wish to maintain their relationship with the other parent?
- The answers to these questions will help determine the specifics of your arrangement for joint custody in Texas.
In Texas, the legal name for custody is conservatorship. There are two types of conservatorship:
Possessory conservatorship is more commonly known as “physical custody.” It refers to where the kids will live and what sort of possession schedule will be awarded.
Managing conservatorship is more commonly known as “legal custody.” It refers to the power to make decisions about the children’s education, healthcare, and so forth.
It is possible for arrangements of joint custody in Houston, Texas to involve any combination of both kinds of custody, depending on your particular circumstances.
For example, if one parent has a disability that would make it hard for the kids to live with them, they might have a custody arrangement where they have a limited possession schedule but share joint rights and duties for the children.
Alternatively, a parent who can provide a safe home for the kids but is terrible about planning for the future and saving money might have equal physical custody but limited ability to manage the children’s finances (for example, an inherited estate).
Typically, both forms of custody are shared in an arrangement that the courts or the parties deem to be in the best interest of the children.
What If My Ex Looks Good on Paper but Is Bad for the Kids?
This is a thorny issue that comes up very often in custody disputes. Sometimes, there is a genuine case of one parent putting on a good public face but doing bad things at home. If this is true of your ex, then Ramos Law Group can help you document these parental fitness issues and demonstrate them to the court or a mediator. It is important to do your best to document these instances to provide solid evidence rather than a “he said-she said” situation. Documentation can come from school records, social media, text messages or emails, medical records, etc.
What If I’m the One Being Accused as Unfit for Custody?
If you’re the one being accused of parental unfitness, we can help you defend against those accusations by refuting them if they’re false. It is especially important to consult with an attorney for swift legal action if a protective order has been filed against you.
If there is some truth to the accusations, it is not necessarily a deal-breaker. The court’s primary goal is to preserve a relationship between the child and both parents. It’s still very possible for you to earn joint custody in Houston, Texas or elsewhere, as long as there is nothing that would be deemed harmful to the best interests of the child.
The Ramos Law Group can help you do this by charting a path for you to overcome or minimize any weakness in your fitness as a parent. For instance, if you have anger issues, it will go a long way in court if you can show the judge that you’ve been attending counseling sessions. If you’re bad with money, you can open a savings account and prove that you’re capable of financial responsibility. We may also be able to help you by going through a mediation process rather than litigating everything in court.
Our goal is always to help you get the rights you deserve when it comes to joint custody in Houston, Texas.
What If Things Change Down the Road?
Custody arrangements are not always permanent. A court can modify them if circumstances change as long as the children are under the age of 18. If you’re worried that an upcoming custody dispute will end unfavorably for you, here at Ramos Law Group we can help you prepare both to get the best outcome possible, both today and down the road.
Advice for Dads
There’s a common belief that the courts treat fathers unfairly, giving preferential consideration to mothers when it comes to arrangements for joint custody in Houston, Texas and the surrounding counties.
The good news is that, legally, this is no longer true. In the past, due to stronger views about the roles of men and women in society, and the fact that many mothers stayed at home instead of working, the courts often did grant favorable custody arrangements to women. Today, however, this is illegal and the focus is on the children’s needs rather than traditional gender roles. The courts must consider the rights of each parent regardless of gender. (This also applies to certain other traits, such as race.) And most courts get it right!
The bad news is that old beliefs die hard, and sometimes there is still a prejudice against fathers. However, since it’s against the law, you can fight it. Ramos Law Group offers divorce and custody lawyers for men who can help walk you through the steps you need to take in your proceedings for joint custody in Houston, Texas.
You Need an Experienced Custody Lawyer
Many good parents lose custody rights because they did not properly prepare their case or put on the best possible evidence or legal arguments. Ramos Law Group has a long record of experience in winning custody disputes and getting parents the rights they deserve.
If you’re involved in a dispute for joint custody in Houston, Texas, or the surrounding areas, we can help! Contact us today to discuss your situation and get the ball rolling toward a healthier, happier tomorrow for you and your kids.