Spousal Support and Children in a Texas Divorce

Spousal support or maintenance as it is sometimes referred to as is when one spouse supports another spouse financially after a divorce has occurred. If you are able to prove to a court that you have circumstances in place that will prevent you from earning an income sufficient to provide for yourself then you have an opportunity to be awarded spousal support.

If you are caring for a disabled child, are disabled yourself or due to circumstances related to your marriage have little ability or job experience to earn an income then you may be in line to receive spousal support.

Conservatorship of your child

When people come into the Law Office of Bryan Fagan to discuss their divorce 10 times out of 10 he or she will use the word “custody” when it comes to their child. I do the same thing, and most attorneys do as well. Would it surprise you to learn, then, that the word custody does not appear in the Texas Family Code even one time?

The word that the Code uses that most closely approximates what the word custody means is called conservatorship. Conservatorship refers to the relationship between a child and their parents. Issues like the support of the children, access, and possession, as well as visitation, are all taken into consideration when the court determines orders related to the conservatorship of your child.

Dividing up the rights and duties you have as a parent is somewhat similar to how you and your spouse divide up your community estate.

There is no “one size fits all” order that can be handed down by a judge and there are certainly circumstances in play related to your children that would make it ideal for you and your spouse to hammer out your own breakdown. A creative solution works best for most families, compared to having a judge make a ruling that is pretty cookie cutter.

Managing vs. Possessory Conservators

For the most part, you can expect to be named either a possessory conservator or a managing conservator of your children after your divorce concludes. While the time breakdown that each kind of conservator gets to spend with their children is not much different, the rights and duties of each can be significantly different.

Essentially- if you are named the managing conservator your child will be residing with you primarily and you will have more right to make decisions on their behalf. If you are named the possessory conservator you will have visitation on the weekends with your children and have a reduced role in the decision making on a daily basis. Let’s discuss each role in greater detail.

As a managing conservator, your primary advantages over the possessory conservator is that you have the right to determine the primary residence of your child as well as the right to receive child support. The majority of decision making responsibility is placed on you which means that you can make the lion’s share of decisions regarding educational, medical and other important issues related to the raising of your child.

As a possessory conservator you are still provided with rights to your child but on a reduced level. Your times of possession with the child will be more sporadic than the managing conservator as well. Finally, you will likely be ordered to pay child support to your ex-spouse in order to provide for your child during the times that you are not in possession of him or her.

Joint Managing Conservatorship vs. Sole Managing Conservatorship

There is a presumption in Texas that naming parents as joint managing conservators is in the best interests of the child, absent fairly extreme circumstances like abuse or neglect. If you are named as a sole managing conservator not only do you have the ability to determine the primary residence of your child but also to hold almost all of the rights associated with making decisions for him or her. The possessory conservator holds some right to possess the children and make decisions (possibly) but those rights are restricted a great deal.

For the most part, parents in Texas divorces are named as joint managing conservators. It is the public policy of our state that a child should have a long lasting and strong relationship with both parents and naming parents as joint managing conservators seek to further that goal. This does not mean that both parents will share visitation, possession, access and conservatorship rights equally- but these issues will be essentially split down the middle more so than in a sole managing conservatorship.

Possession and Access to your child

To avoid issues and disputes regarding who should be in possession of your child at a certain time, a schedule will be outlined in your final decree of divorce which details a possession schedule where every day of the year is accounted for. That’s not to say that you and your spouse cannot deviate from this schedule by agreement, but in any event, it acts as a fall back to rely upon.

If you are the parent with the right to designate the primary residence of your child then you will be able to be in possession of your child at all times not specifically provided for in your Divorce Decree. Your spouse will be awarded specific periods of visitation that will be named explicitly in your divorce decree. If you’ve heard of the term “visitation rights” this is what that term refers to.

The Standard Possession Order and Child Support- tomorrow’s blog topics

Stay tuned with us tomorrow when we will go over the Standard Possession Order as well as child support in greater detail.

Thank you for showing an interest in the topic of divorce in Texas. Questions about your particular situation can be addressed to one of our licensed family law attorneys in a free of charge consultation. Please contact us today to set up an appointment in order to learn more about divorce or any other subject in Texas family law.

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Law Office of Bryan Fagan | Houston, Texas Divorce Lawyers

The Law Office of Bryan Fagan routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding divorce, it's important to speak with one of our Houston, TX Divorce Lawyers right away to protect your rights.

Our divorce lawyers in Houston TX are skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact Law Office of Bryan Fagan by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan handles Divorce cases in Houston, Texas, Cypress, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, Houston, the FM 1960 area, or surrounding areas, including Harris County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Galveston County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County and Waller County.

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