Shared custody refers to a custody arrangement where both parents share significant responsibilities and decision-making authority regarding their child or children after divorce or separation. Shared custody is also commonly known as joint custody and is recognized as a way to promote the continued involvement of both parents in the upbringing of their children, provided it is in the best interests of the child.
Definition of Shared Custody
Shared custody refers to a custody arrangement where both parents share significant responsibilities and decision-making authority regarding their child or children after divorce or separation. Shared custody is also commonly known as joint custody.
Shared custody in Texas can take various forms, but it generally involves both physical custody (the actual time spent with the child) and legal custody (the authority to make important decisions about the child’s upbringing).
Texas favors joint custody but the Standard Possession Order (SPO) doesn’t divide parenting time 50/50. At present, the typical possession schedule in the state allocates 75% of the child’s time to the custodial parent, leaving the noncustodial parent with 25%.
Nevertheless, the standard possession order (SPO) functions as a default plan, and courts retain the authority to depart from it when such a decision is deemed beneficial for the child.
Key Aspects of Shared Custody in Texas
Here’s a breakdown of the key aspects of shared custody in Texas.
Shared custody arrangements in Texas typically involve a division of physical custody between the parents. This means that the child spends significant time living with both parents, usually on a rotating schedule.
The specific schedule can vary based on the needs of the child and the preferences of the parents, but it often includes weekdays with one parent and weekends or alternate weeks with the other parent.
In addition to physical custody, shared custody in Texas usually involves joint legal custody. Legal custody gives both parents the right to participate in major decisions affecting the child’s life, such as those related to education, healthcare, religious upbringing, and extracurricular activities. Parents are expected to collaborate and communicate effectively to make decisions that are in the best interests of the child.
Shared custody arrangements in Texas typically require the parents to create a detailed parenting plan outlining the specifics of the custody arrangement, including the schedule for physical custody, the allocation of holidays and vacations, transportation arrangements, and methods for resolving disputes. The parenting plan must be approved by the court and becomes a legally binding document.
Effective communication and cooperation between parents are essential for successful shared custody arrangements. Parents are encouraged to maintain open lines of communication, respect each other’s parenting styles, and prioritize the child’s well-being.
Co-parenting classes or counseling may be required by the court to help parents navigate the challenges of shared custody and develop healthy co-parenting relationships.
Best Interests of the Child
It’s important to note that custody decisions in Texas are based on the best interests of the child standard. Courts consider factors such as the child’s age, needs, relationship with each parent, and the ability of the parents to cooperate and foster a positive relationship with the child.
Shared custody may not be appropriate in cases involving domestic violence, substance abuse, or other factors that could endanger the child’s safety or well-being.
Relevant Law: Texas Family Code – FAM § 263.307.
Overall, shared custody in Texas provides a framework for parents to share parenting responsibilities and maintain meaningful relationships with their children following divorce or separation. By working together and focusing on the needs of the child, parents can create a supportive and nurturing environment that promotes the child’s overall development and well-being.