Divorce forces parting spouses to resolve several crucial personal, financial, and legal matters. For splitting couples with minor children, no issue bears greater importance than the custody and future well-being of said youths.
What Does Custodial Parent Mean?
In The State of Texas, divorcing parents with minor children can be divided into categories denoted as custodial and non-custodial parents.
The custodial parent, formally referred to as the parent with managing conservator, is the individual holding primary custody over their youths. This is whom the young people will reside and spend most of their time when not in school or engaging in extracurricular activities.
Some may simplify this discussion using terminology like legal or physical custody. Physical custody often references the parent with whom the child lives. Legal custody is typically shared by both the custodial and non-custodial parents and calls upon said individuals to work together in rendering crucial legal decisions and other pertinent matters on the children’s behalf.
Typically, courts permit the parting factions to determine which parent will take on each specific role. However, both parents must be of sound mind and the custodial duties assigned to each party must be court-approved.
Custody arrangements can be part of broader-reaching documents known as parenting plans.
These contracts can be set forth by the separating factions and include issues such as visitation schedules for the non-custodial parent, travel arrangements, dictation regarding how respective parties will reach important health, and educational decisions relating to the children in question, and which parent will remit payment for the youths healthcare and other notable expenses.
Formulating A Parenting Plan
To create a valid parenting plan, each party must negotiate and accept all of the established terms. Once said tenets are created, they must be documented. Said document must then be signed and reviewed by a court. In most instances, courts accept validly negotiated and written arrangements.
Rights Afforded Each Party
Regardless of their designation, divorcing parents are afforded certain rights. These privileges are guaranteed by law and cannot be infringed upon by another party.
Custodial parents are given the authority to designate the youth’s primary residence, authorize pertinent medical treatments, render legal decisions on their children’s behalf, consent to the offspring’s marriage or enlistment into military service, and receive child support payments.
In most cases, a non-custodial parent ruled mentally fit enjoys privileges similar to the custodial parent. The only notable exceptions are in determining their children’s primary residence and in receiving child support.
When Amicable Agreements Cannot Be Reached?
Texas courts encourage splitting spouses to formulate parenting plans and custody arrangements. However, occasionally, such separations can be contentious or involve extenuating underlying circumstances necessitating significant court intervention.
If the divorcing subjects are unable to reach an amicable accord, courts will resolve custodial issues. Such decisions will be rendered based on what the ruling entity believes serves the child’s best interests.
Under such circumstances, non-custodial parents might have their ability to render medical or educational decisions on their children’s behalf somewhat limited. Additionally, their visitation arrangements could be subject to those set forth in a piece of state legislation called the Standard Possession Order, which is sometimes abbreviated as an SPO.
Under the SPO mandate, visitation is dictated by the physical distance separating the non-custodial parent and said individual’s children.
Those residing less than 100 miles away from their children’s primary residence are permitted to see their offspring every first, third, and fifth weekend each month, every other holiday such as Christmas every other year, every Thursday night, during the school year and at least 30 days during summer vacation.
Non-custodial parents residing in excess of 100 miles from their former spouse enjoy alternating holiday visits, every spring break, and a minimum of 42 days during the summer. When circumstances warrant, weekend visits may be shortened to only once per month.
Sole Physical Custody
Occasions might arise when a court deems one parent should hold sole physical custody. Such conditions might be indicated if one parent does not provide a suitable or safe living environment for the children in question, has demonstrated mental instability, carries abusive tendencies, suffers from a substance abuse problem, or holds some type of major physical disability making them unable to care for the children.
Does The Child’s Opinion Count?
State law allows courts to factor in a child’s preference regarding which parent should serve as primary conservator. However, said youths must be 12 years of age or older.
How To Determining Child Support Payments
Parenting plans could include information regarding child support payment amounts and schedules. That said, when such arrangements cannot be made amicably, courts will intervene and the non-custodial parent will be required to offer such remittances in accordance with state-mandated guidelines.
Usually, the number of minor children in question determines how much the remitting subject will be required to pay. In most cases, non-custodial parents supporting one child must offer 20% of their net pay, 25% for two children, 30% for three youths, 35% for four offspring, and 40 percent when five or more young persons are involved.
It is important to note, however, that these figures could change should extenuating or unexpected circumstances arise.
Reaching Out To The Covington Law Firm PLLC
Those experiencing or considering divorce and concerned about custody issues in Fort Bend County and surrounding regions are strongly urged to consult with experienced family and divorce law attorney Vonda Covington. Ms. Covington possesses more than 25 years handling these delicate cases and producing favorable results for divorcing parties and, above all, their children.