When a couple divorces, one of the most difficult--and often contentious--aspects of the process is determining custody of the couple's child or children.  In Texas, custody is called conservatorship, and within conservatorship, there are two types of custody – legal custody and physical custody.  Collin County Divorce Attorneys seek several types of child custody on behalf of their clients:

 

Legal Custody:  this refers to the decision making that parents have.  If it is joint, both parents have input in major decisions in the child's life, such as schooling, religious upbringing, and medical care

Physical Custody: this refers generally to the possession and access schedule the parents have with the child/children. the parent with primary physical custody has the child living with them usually greater than 50% of the time

Sole Custody (sole managing conservatorship):  one parent generally has exclusive legal custody (decision making) of the child and that same parent generally has primary physical custody (which doesn’t necessarily mean the other parent is denied access).

Joint Legal Custody:  the decision making for the child is exercised by both parents (this can be set up to be exercised independently, exclusively, by agreement, after talking to the other parent, and other ways)

Joint Physical Custody:  the child shares time between both parents

 

     Some of the above types of custody complement each other, while others exist on their own.  For example, one scenario may be (1) Joint Legal Custody with Joint Physical Custody; and another scenario could be (2) Sole Legal Custody with Joint Physical Custody.  In the first scenario, both parents of the child would have input into major life decisions and would share living time with their child. In the second scenario, one parent has exclusive legal custody to make decisions for the child, and the child continues to share time between the homes of both parents.

     What happens when there is a disagreement about a major life decision--e.g. whether a child will attend public or private schooling--in a joint legal custody arrangement? If the parties are unable to work the issue out themselves, or through their attorneys, they sometimes need to seek court intervention. It is for this very reason that courts carefully scrutinize joint custody agreements, both legal and physical. Courts must determine that the parties to joint custodial agreements can cooperate with each other for the best interest of the child. Sometimes a divorce may be too acrimonious for the parents to agree on anything, much less the major life decisions of their child. A court has to find that the parties are able to act in the best interest of the child to award joint legal custody. The court will consider whether both parents are willing to discuss and reach agreements on important parenting issues.  Similarly, a court will want to know that the parties can accomplish child transfer and scheduling issues without acrimony in deciding whether to award in order to award joint legal custody. 

     Even if the parents are willing and able to share legal and/or physical custody, in addition to factors found in the Texas Family Code, Collin County Divorce Attorneys have enumerated other factors courts consider in awarding joint legal and physical custody:

          1.  Fitness of each parent

          2.  Child's relationship with each parent

          3.  Child's parental preference when age appropriate

          4.  Proximity of parents' homes

          5.  Stability of child's school and social life

          6.  Employment considerations; i.e. does one parent work long hours or travel?

          7.  Age and number of children

     The Standard Possession Schedule in Texas may not be workable for your situation.  Perhaps the best custody plan is one that is custom made. The Collin County Divorce Attorneys at Nordhaus Walpole, PLLC specialize in creating the custody plan that fits your needs.  Call us today for a free consultation.