Every child custody case is different and none of them are “easy.” Legal issues involving children, especially young children, are emotionally charged and often difficult for all involved. At Myres & Associates, PLLC, we make it our mission to explore all available options so that we may accomplish the optimal result for your child custody and support case.
A common misconception many first-time family law litigants have is that a parent may condition the other parent’s ability to see the child with their ability to pay child support. Child support and physical custody are separate issues. A court may not restrict the physical custody visitation rights of a parent if that parent fails to pay the ordered amount of child support.
Child custody not only refers to the physical possession of and access to a child (“physical custody”), but also pertains to child parenting decisions (“legal custody”). Both custody types are comprised of distinctive rights and duties, which may be awarded to either one parent in a “sole conservatorship,” or shared between both parents in a “joint conservatorship.”
The rights and duties afforded each parent appointed to a joint or sole conservatorship are not absolute, which means the court is allowed to restrict a parent’s rights and duties if they determine doing so would be in the “best interests” of the child. For instance, a parent’s physical custody rights may be restricted by the court to only supervised periods of visitation if the court finds that parent has committed family violence against the other parent or child during the marriage. Supervised visitation and other similar limitations are rarely ordered by courts because the Texas Legislature believes that as much parental involvement as possible is in the child’s “best interests.” For this reason, absent specified exceptions, it is presumed that it is in the best interest of the child to appoint both parents as joint managing conservators and for parents with whom the child does not reside to receive a standard possession order under Chapter 153, Subchapter F of the Texas Family Code.
For parents, the following custody options are available in a suit affecting the parent-child relationship, which is known as a S.A.P.C.R. (pronounced sap-ser).
- Sole Managing Conservatorship: if the court determines that a joint managing conservatorship is not in the best interests of the child, they will award sole managing conservatorship to one parent over the other. The parent appointed sole conservator has the exclusive authority to make legal decisions for the child, such as invasive medical treatment decisions. The rights and duties awarded exclusively to sole managing conservators are provided in Section 153.132 of the Texas Family Code. Regarding legal custody, even if one parent has the sole right to make decisions for the child, the courts will typically award a standard possession visitation schedule to the non-sole managing conservator, also referred to as a “possessory conservator.”
- Joint Managing Conservatorship: in a joint managing conservatorship, both parents are granted the rights and duties awarded exclusively to a sole managing conservator. However, depending on the circumstances, the parties can agree to or the court can order that certain rights and duties are given to one parent versus the other, even though they are joint conservators. For example, this is typical for situations where the court grants one joint managing conservator the exclusive right to designate the primary residence of the child, but the parents share all other rights and duties. Joint managing conservatorships are not necessarily an even, fifty-fifty split of physical time with and rights over the child.
Our attorneys work to resolve your case in the best interest of you and your child. Trust Myres & Associates, PLLC to help with your child custody issues. We proudly serve the Houston, TX area.