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Parenting plans and child custody in Texas

Parents in Texas may benefit from learning more about the laws concerning parenting plans and child custody, as described by the State Bar of Texas. A parenting plan consists of child support, rights to custody, a visitation schedule and other matters involving the child in an effort to minimize disputes. Parenting plans became a required part of the state's final divorce decree in the year 2005. Courts presiding over a divorce proceeding also have the authority to provide adjudication regarding custody rights after the dissolution of the marriage.

In most cases, parents are awarded joint custody after the divorce is finalized. Under joint custody, both parents have rights and responsibilities involving the child. The technical term for this type of arrangement is "joint managing conservatorship." In any case, the primary directive for family courts is to act in the best interest of the child. Generally speaking, family courts believe joint custody arrangements are in the best interest of the children.

However, even in joint custody, the courts will still place the authority of choosing the child's primary residence with one parent. This parent is often referred to as the custodial parent or the primary joint managing conservator. The other parent is commonly known as a non-custodial parent or the possessory conservator. Courts may appoint one parent as the sole managing conservator if the other parent has been estranged, has a history of abuse or there is a history of extreme discord over religious, medical or educational beliefs.

Parents who need assistance with negotiating the terms of a parenting plan or child custody rights may benefit from consulting a family lawyer. Legal counsel may be able to act as an effective intermediary in an effort to negotiate amicable terms for all parties involved in the dispute.

Source: State Bar of Texas, "Pro Se Divorce Handbook ", October 11, 2014

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