Clarifying Conservatorship Agreements In Dallas
Amidst the crisis of divorce, collaborating with your former spouse on matters of conservatorship may seem like a monumental task. At CARLOCK & GORMLEY, we help divorcing couples create positive solutions for their children through custody and visitation agreements.
How Custody Works in Texas
Each final order in Texas that involves a child must contain a parenting plan which provides for the payment of child support, possession and access of the child, and the assignment of parental rights and duties. Texas parents are fortunate to live under a progressive family code that encourages parents to decide these issues among themselves with the assistance of counsel.
First, it is the policy of the State of Texas to assure that children will have frequent and continuing contact with parents who exhibit the ability to act in the best interest of the child. This policy is supported by the by the rule that it is a reputable presumption that the appointment of both parents as joint managing conservators is in the best interest of the child.
Second, the Texas Family Code sets the parameters of a Parenting Plan by providing Child Support Guidelines and a Standard Possession Order relative to possession and access. Parenting Plans which conform to such requirements are “presumed” to be in the best interest of the child and will be approved by the Court.
Child Support Guidelines base child support on the net resources of the obligor and the number of children to be supported. Even though the guidelines originally were thought to be a starting point for setting support, judges quickly began applying the percentage recommended by the guidelines as the stopping point as well; hence, the parties do not have a great deal of negotiating space when seeking agreements for child support.
However, as joint managing conservators, the parents have wider latitude in deciding times of possession and dividing parental rights and duties. The Standard Possession Order which governs the possession schedule of the “non-primary” joint managing conservator can be altered by agreement of the parties, including dividing times of possession equally, for which there is more than one approach.
Regardless of the division of possession time, rights and duties can be shared and/or divided between the parents. From a practical standpoint, the “primary parent” will usually be accorded the “exclusive right” to determine the child’s domicile; to make educational decisions; to receive child support; and to make decisions relative to the child’s surgical and mental health treatments.
However, the parent with an exclusive right can be required to “consult” with or give “notice” to the other parent before acting. Such powers can also be shared by the parents who can act independently of the other or be required to “consult” with or give “notice” to the other before acting.
The attorneys of our law firm have years of experience in assisting parents to understand how the Child Support Guidelines and the Standard Possession Order operate, and to use such tools to successfully negotiate a Parenting Plan which the Court will find to be in the best interest of each child. However, when an agreement is impossible to obtain, our attorneys are experienced trial lawyers who zealously represent each client, whether in a trial before the Court or a jury trial to decide primary conservatorship.