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What Are the Chances of a Father Getting 50/50 Custody in Texas?

As a father going through a separation or divorce, you are likely concerned about the custody of your children. Will they live with you? Will they have to live with their mother? Will you lose your ability to spend time with them? You want to ensure that you remain in their lives, retain the right to spend time with them, and have a say in decisions related to their care and safety. 

Texas law has evolved to be more open to ensuring both parents have equal opportunity to parent their children. Joint custody (or 50/50 custody) arrangements have become more commonplace in recent years. Certain factors and considerations dictate if a 50/50 custody arrangement is appropriate. Below, we will discuss the chances of a father getting 50/50 custody in Texas and how to get 50/50 custody as a father.

Understanding Conservatorships (Legal Custody)

In Texas, the right to make decisions about a child is called conservatorship (many states call this legal custody). Generally, a conservator has the right to manage decisions for and receive information about the child. There are three types of conservatorships a judge can grant:

  • Joint managing conservatorship—both parents jointly act as the child’s conservators, sharing the rights and responsibilities of parenthood and decision-making;
  • Sole managing conservatorship—one parent acts as the child’s conservator, taking on the rights and responsibilities listed above as well as additional responsibilities specific to the sole conservator; or
  • Possessory conservatorship—if one parent is named the sole managing conservator, the other parent may be named the possessory conservator who has rights to possession of their child but does not have rights to final decision-making on the child’s behalf.

Judges determine the most appropriate conservatorship based on statutory presumptions and the facts specific to the family involved.

A Father’s Chance of Obtaining Joint Conservatorship

How can a father get 50/50 custody in Texas? With regard to conservatorships, Texas law presumes that it is in the child’s best interest for both parents to share decision-making for the child. Therefore, a father has an increased chance of securing a 50/50 joint managing conservatorship. 

Working with the mother to create a parenting plan can further increase the chances of securing a joint conservatorship. An agreed-upon parenting plan specifies the rights and duties of each parent and should include provisions to minimize disruption in the child’s daily life. If the plan contains all necessary sections and is in the child’s best interest, the court will likely appoint the parents as joint managing conservators.  

If a parenting plan is not filed, the court can determine if a joint managing conservatorship is in the child’s best interest based on consideration of the following factors:

  • The physical, psychological, or emotional needs and development of the child;
  • The ability of the parents to prioritize the child’s best interests and make shared decisions;
  • The ability of each parent to foster a positive relationship between the child and the other parent;
  • The degree of participation of each parent in the child’s prior upbringing;
  • The location of the parents’ homes;
  • The child’s wishes (if the child is 12 years of age or older) about where the child will live; and 
  • Other relevant factors.

To increase the chances of a joint conservatorship, a father must show he is involved in his child’s life and can provide a stable and nurturing environment supportive of the child’s best interests. The more evidence a father has of his involvement in the child’s life, the more likely the court will grant a joint managing conservatorship.

Possession and Access (Physical Custody)

Possession and access describe the right of parents to spend time with the child (known also as physical custody or visitation). If parents share a joint managing conservatorship, it does not mean they will also share joint possession and access. There is no similar presumption that shared physical custody and visitation is in the child’s best interest. 

Standard Possession Order

In Texas, the presumption is that the standard protection order (SPO) is in the child’s best interest. In an SPO, one parent’s residence becomes the child’s primary residence, and the other parent has less time with the child. The child’s primary residence parent is the custodial parent, and the other parent is the non-custodial parent. 

A Father’s Chance of Getting 50/50 Physical Custody or Possession and Access

The presumption that the SPO is in the best interest of the child is rebuttable. The SPO may not suit your family’s needs. You can work with the child’s mother to agree on how to split the physical custody of the child and file a parenting plan. The court may approve an agreed-upon parenting plan for shared custody if it is in the child’s best interest. 

If you and the child’s mother cannot reach an agreement, you can prove to the court that you are actively involved in the child’s life. If you are not regularly involved in the child’s daily activities, it will be difficult for the court to approve 50/50 custody. 

Additionally, courts look to minimize the disruption in a child’s daily life. If you live far away from the child, and 50/50 custody could interrupt the child’s schooling or important activities, the court is unlikely to award shared custody.

It is also less likely for a father to get 50/50 custody if the child is under the age of three. From infancy to roughly age three, the child relies heavily on the mother for care, particularly if the child is still breastfeeding. 

While it may be more challenging to pursue 50/50 possession or access, working with a skilled family law attorney can help increase your chances. An attorney can build your case as to why you are a father who deserves equal custody of your child.

Hire Ramos Law Group to Help Understand Your Chances of Getting 50/50 Custody in Texas

If you are wondering how to get 50/50 custody as a father, consult an experienced child custody attorney. A child custody attorney can review the details of your case and help you understand your chances of getting joint managing conservatorship and 50/50 physical custody of your children. An attorney can also help you strengthen your case and advocate for increased custody. The Ramos Law Group, PLLC, has served family law clients for over fourteen years. We understand that divorce and separations involving minor children can be emotionally charged and difficult to navigate. All of our attorneys solely practice family law and are familiar with the family courts in Texas. Our founder, Mary E. Ramos, is Board Certified in Family law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and has received numerous awards, including being named a Texas Super Lawyer in 2023. Contact The Ramos Group today to learn how we can help increase your chances of getting 50/50 custody as a father. 

Last Updated on May 16, 2024 by Mary E. Ramos

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Mary E. Ramos

Mary E. Ramos is Board Certified in Family Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. She is recognized and respected throughout the Houston legal community for dedication in effectively representing clients’ rights and interests. Mary understands the emotional side of divorce and brings a special compassion to each and every case.

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