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The use of parenting plans in custody and visitation proceedings

Divorcing parents in Texas may be familiar with the idea that the best interests of the child determine a court's decision on child custody disputes. When such a dispute arises, a court may require divorcing parents to devise a parenting plan. A parenting plan specifies how the child will be supported, who is responsible for the child and specifics on parental access to a child.

If a court determines that a parenting plan does not serve the best interests of the child, it may require the parents to devise a new one. If the revised plan is not satisfactory, or the parents fail to devise a plan, the court may write its own parenting plan. If one parent wants sole custody, or wants to restrict or totally eliminate the visitation of the other parent, he or she must prove that the non-custodial parent presents a danger to the child.

Most courts make a basic assumption that the best interests of the child are best served when both parents have a relationship with their children. Courts must have clear evidence that a parent is likely to abuse a child or the other parent in order to issue an order that would disrupt the relationship between a parent and a child. A court may order supervised visits as part of a parenting plan before totally denying access to a child. Evidence of past abuse toward a child or the other parent, or a criminal history of violent behavior, can serve as evidence that a parent is likely to abuse a child.

Any parent involved in a child custody dispute may want to speak with an attorney who has experience in family law matters. The attorney can discuss a parenting plan as well as other aspects of child custody and visitation.

Source: statutes.legis.state.tx.us, "Conservatorship, Possession, and Access", November 03, 2014

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