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Child custody disputes are often the most emotionally charged part of any divorce or separation, and involve not only the division of time between children, but the inevitable agreement that one parent will spend more time with the child than the other. While courts encourage joint custody agreements the majority of the time, joint custody does not mean that each parent is entitled to visitation 50 percent of the time. It is difficult to fit this into any child’s schedule. However, joint custody does mean that both parents will get to split time during holidays and other major events in a child’s life.
JOINT MANAGING CONSERVATORS AND PARENTAL RIGHTS
In the state of Texas, parents who participate in joint custody are known as joint managing conservators. Both joint managing conservators will sign and file a parenting plan with the court which designates which parent the child will live with, as well as the rights and duties of each parent. In limited circumstances, one parent may be the sole managing conservator, either temporarily or for the duration of the custody agreement, which may severely limit the parental rights of the other parent. Complicated custody agreements may occur in situations where one parent moves out of state or is consistently traveling for work. An experienced family law attorney will work with you to draft a custody agreement which offers both parents ongoing access to the children while also taking into account the best interests of the children.
The typical parental rights which are divided during the custody agreement (and which parents will hold at all times as a joint managing conservator) include:
- Right to receive information and make decisions regarding the welfare, health, and education of the child
- Right to access of medical records and to consult with a doctor
- Right to consult with school officials and attend school activities
- Right to be designated as the child’s emergency contact
- Right to consent to medical and dental treatment during an emergency situation.
During a period of possession of the child, a parent will have additional duties, including the discipline of a child and the duty to support the child. In instances where one parent is the sole managing conservator, the parent will hold the exclusive rights involving all consents and decisions regarding the well-being of the child.
Child custody agreements may be as broad or as specific as the parents desire them to be. Most child custody agreements remain fairly broad so they can be tweaked in the future. However, many child custody agreements are quite specific and include dates years in the future so parents can plan ahead. Parents may want to switch off holidays and provide that one year one parent will have access to the children over Christmas, while the other parent will have the children over Christmas the following year. Maintaining the relationship with the other parent will often make the legal process of child support agreements easier, and will additionally ease the stress which divorce can place on the children. The purpose of child custody agreements is to ensure that children are well taken care of after a divorce occurs, and they should remain in the forefront throughout any custody agreement.
MALLEY LAW FIRM | HOUSTON CHILD CUSTODY ATTORNEY
If you are going through the process of a child custody agreement, do not hesitate to contact the experienced attorneys of the Malley Law Firm. Our attorneys have years of experience in handling child custody arrangements and will work tirelessly to ensure that you retain access to your children. You will never get the chance to make memories with your children if you are not allowed access to them, and it is important that you ensure your rights are protected before signing a parenting agreement. Contact our Houston and Beaumont offices today for your initial free consultation.