Child Custody and Texas Divorce
If you are divorcing someone who you share children with, your primary concern is probably the well-being of your kids. Divorce brings about a major change in the lives of everyone involved. For children, it’s a change they have no control over. However, the effects of divorce on children don’t have to be all negative.
You can expect your kids to go from living with both of their biological parents to shuttling between households. They could possibly eventually live with their parents’ new partners.
That’s why the courts are particularly concerned with matters relating to children in cases of divorce in Texas with child custody.
The agreement that you come to during the divorce process regarding custody and support typically remain until the child becomes a legal adult, making it particularly important to take your time with these decisions.
Luckily, the state of Texas agrees with you that the children’s well-being is the most important goal. The official standard is that all decisions should be made with the best interest of the child in mind.
Types of Child Custody in the State of Texas
There are two primary types of custody: physical and legal.
What’s the difference?
Physical custody refers to where a child resides. In many cases, the parents share physical custody, which means that the child resides with each parent at least a third of the year. This can be done by switching off weeks, living with one parent during the school year and the other during the summer, or any other arrangement that works for your family.
You’ll hammer out the details of this in collaboration with your former spouse and lawyers. Sometimes, the courts will award physical custody to one parent and allow the other parent visitation – this can happen when one parent is not deemed capable of having safe physical custody.
Legal custody, on the other hand, has to do with the right to make decisions on behalf of the children. This is also often joint, with both parents having an equal right to make medical, educational, and other choices on behalf of their children. However, in some cases, parents are awarded sole legal custody.
What Does “Best Interest” Mean?
The best interest of the child simply means that the state of Texas wants the same thing that you want: for your children to have the best possible childhood.
A wide variety of factors are taken into consideration when determining what is in the best interests of the child. This can include the home environments of the parents, their ability to co-parent, their employment situation (particularly work hours that could limit their availability), and the location of their home.
In almost every San Antonio child custody divorce case, for example, the courts make efforts to split custody relatively equitably.
How Much Say Does My Child Get in Custody Cases?
When your child is young, the court will not permit them to choose who they would like to live with during a divorce in Texas with child custody. They will count on you and your lawyers to determine what is in the best interests of your children and make custody decisions on their behalf.
Once a child reaches the age of 12, the court will take their wishes into consideration. Just because your children are under 12 at the time of the divorce does not mean they will never have a voice; they can ask for a change to the custody agreement once they turn twelve.
How Is Child Support Connected to Custody?
Often, the non-custodial parent has to pay child support to the custodial parent. This is money that is supposed to be used directly for the raising of the child and any associated expenses. Child support is not awarded based on fault, and it is not money that is given to the former spouse.
It is money that is to be used to raise the children so that the divorce has minimal impact on their standard of living.
While support and custody can be connected in this way, visitation is not directly connected with custody. You cannot refuse your former spouse visitation because of a failure to pay child support.
The state of Texas believes that it is in the best interest to have a relationship with both parents (except in cases of child abuse) and will not sever that relationship due to a failure to pay. However, child support can be garnished directly from their paycheck to ensure that it is paid.
You and your former spouse have a large amount of say in the custody plan for your children. In fact, the judge will expect you to come with a plan and will usually approve that plan if they agree that it’s in the children’s best interests. You can come up with this plan on your own, in mediation, or with lawyers.
Getting a Divorce in Texas with Child Custody
We always recommend consulting a family law lawyer about the intricacies of custody issues. If you live in San Antonio, TX or the surrounding cities, it’s always best to contact a local divorce attorney for assistance.
A Texas divorce is a highly complicated issue that will impact your family for years. So, it’s important to come up with a plan that will work well for everyone when you’re getting a divorce in Texas with child custody.
Looking for a highly qualified San Antonio divorce lawyer? We can help you make a child custody plan that will serve your family well for years. Give us a call for a free consultation today.