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Texas child custody guidelines

In Texas, a family law judge decides which parent will have custody if the parents are unable to agree on their own arrangement. Like most states, the primary consideration is what is in the best interest of the child. In Texas, child custody is often referred to as "conservatorship".

There are two primary forms of child custody in Texas cases: joint custody and sole custody. A parent who has custody has several rights, including the right to receive information from the other parent regarding the child's health, education and welfare. Additionally, the parent has the right to communicate with third parties about these subjects. If a child needs medical treatment, the parent has the right to seek this treatment.

In Texas, the court presumes that the best interest of the child is to have parents who share custody. In this type of arrangement, the parents share the rights and responsibilities listed above. However, sometimes one parent may be given the exclusive right to make particular decisions regarding the child. The judge specifies which responsibility each parent has if joint custody is awarded. Additionally, parents who have joint custody do not necessarily have equal time with the child. This designation of time is specified in a separate visitation schedule. If sole custody is awarded to one parent, that parent has the right to decide the child's primary residence, consent to medical treatment, determine extracurricular activities for the child and the ability to receive child support.

After the judge determines custody, a visitation schedule is created that contains various guidelines. However, parents also have the option to work out their own schedule and have the judge sign off on this agreement. Likewise, if parents agree to custody arrangements, family law attorneys can work on negotiating an agreement for approval by the judge.

Source: Findlaw, "Child Custody in Texas", September 01, 2014

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