What does joint custody mean?

Divorce and custody battles—let’s face it, they’re about as enjoyable as a trip to the dentist. But fear not, dear reader, because we’re about to embark on a journey that will demystify one crucial aspect of these tumultuous times: joint custody. Picture this: two parents, sharing decision-making responsibilities and equal time with their beloved kiddos, are standing side by side. Sounds like the dream, right? Well, grab a cup of coffee and settle in because we’re diving deep into the world of joint custody.

Short Answer:

Joint custody is the ultimate co-parenting arrangement where both parents share decision-making capabilities and enjoy equal time with their children. It’s like teamwork on steroids—a chance for moms and dads to collaborate, support one another, and build a solid foundation for their little ones.

Why Keep Reading?

Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Is joint custody all it’s cracked up to be? Are there different types? How can I get it? What if my ex and I can’t agree on anything?” Take a breath, my friend, because we’ve got you covered. This engaging and informative article tackles all your burning questions and more.

But hold on, and there’s more! We’ll explore the pros and cons of joint custody, reveal the secret factors courts consider when making custody decisions, and even uncover alternatives to joint custody for those unique situations. Plus, we’ll delve into the nitty-gritty details of parenting plans, communication strategies, and joint custody’s impact on your child’s development.

So, whether you’re a concerned parent navigating the choppy waters of divorce or just an interested soul seeking knowledge, this article is your one-stop guide to understanding joint custody. Let’s embark on this adventure together and unlock the secrets that will empower you to make informed decisions, foster healthier relationships, and ensure the well-being of your precious little ones. Trust me, and it’s a ride you won’t want to miss!

Unlocking the Secrets of Joint Custody: What You Need to Know

Based on my experience as a family law attorney, the term joint custody means many things to many people. Most of the time, it is a term utilized by fathers and mothers to describe in my idealized arrangement where they and their Co-parents will share time in decision-making capabilities for their children in an even fashion. Whether or not it is possible to win joint custody or whether or not joint custody is honored by the law are additional considerations altogether. These parents know that joint custody is a good thing and something to be strived for.

I will take an opportunity to mention how it is fathers, especially those who seem to favor joint custody. It would seem to me that the general belief is that fathers can, at best, win joint custody of their kids. I don’t know where this position comes from, but I can tell you that it is the dominant view among fathers. The reality is that nothing is stopping a father from becoming the primary conservator to a child, all things being equal. The major thing is that you cannot assume that, as a father, you stand no chance of being named as the primary conservator. Many fathers back themselves into a corner with this assumption that can undoubtedly hurt their long-term chances of winning as much time as possible with their kids.

Joint custody is the general standpoint that parenting time should be shared equally between parents. There is nothing wrong with this position. The state of Texas believes that it is in the best interests of you and your children that they have an opportunity to build and maintain a relationship with you. As such, even a standard possession order allows for you to have a great deal of time each year with your child, even if you are not named as primary conservator or even awarded joint custody.

The ironic thing about the whole discussion we are about to engage in is that joint custody is not even mentioned in the Texas Family Code. Notably, the Texas family code does not use the word custody even one time. Custody is more or less a term that the public and attorneys utilize as a substitute for “conservatorship.” Conservatorship is a widely used term in the Texas Family Code and is a topic discussed a great deal throughout family court orders.

Conservatorship refers to an arrangement where you would be positioned to make decisions on behalf of another person and have responsibilities regarding the care of that person. This is important for you to understand. Conservatorship referenced within a family court order means less about time than it does about decision-making. The actual time with your children has more to do with possession and Visitation. When we talk about joint custody, most people who come into our office for a free-of-charge consultation do so to have as much time with their children as possible. As a result, I will write about this topic from that perspective.

What are the types of possession and visitation arrangements that are used in Texas?

Joint custody is a relevant outcome for possession and visitation arrangements only when we consider the other types of possession and visitation arrangements. Texas’s most commonly utilized possession order is called a standard possession order. The standard possession order divides parents by naming one parent as a primary conservator and the other parent as a possessory conservator. The primary conservator will have the children for the majority of the year. Most emotive Lee, the primary conservator, can designate the children’s primary residence.

This means that if you are named the primary conservator of your children, they will reside with you during the school year, most specifically during the school week. This alone gives you a major advantage regarding time with your children. Additionally, you can split time as far as Holidays are concerned with your Co-parent. Regarding the rights and duties contained in a child conservatorships order, the most important designation is typically that of a primary conservative to designate the children’s primary residence. If your case were to go to trial, it would likely be related to something having to do with being able to designate the children’s primary residence.

For the possessory conservator, your possession schedule would allow you to own your children on each month’s 1st, 3rd, and 5th weekends. Additionally, you could alternate Holidays with your Co-parents, such as Christmas, Thanksgiving, and spring break. I have not sat down and done the math on this, but I would estimate that a primary conservator will have the kids for 55% of the year, whereas the possessory conservator would have the kids for the remaining 45% of the year. Holiday visitation and possession are much more equal than during the school year.

This is typically the arrangement set forth for parents who are joint managing conservators. Joint managing conservators not only share time with their children on a somewhat equal basis but also share in the decision-making responsibilities. However, it is not always possible or appropriate for you and your co-parent to be named as joint managing conservators. In a situation like that, a sole managing conservatorship arrangement may be more appropriate.

Sole managing conservatorships

In a sole managing conservatorship, the sole managing conservator will be in the driver’s seat regarding possession and Visitation and decision-making rights and responsibilities. Suppose you are solely managing conservatorship with your co-parent and children. In that case, you should be aware that your possession and Visitation of the kids will not be as frequent as most parents who go through divorce or child custody cases. There are many reasons why this may be the case. I want to discuss with you why you could find yourself in that position.

First and foremost, a judge would look to what is in your child’s best interests when determining what sort of conservatorship arrangement is appropriate. The long-term and short-term impacts of the conservatorship arrangement will be necessary to a judge. This means that if you present some potential harm to your child as far as your parenting is concerned, then a judge may consider not allowing you to be in contact with your child all that frequently. Also, you would be unable to exercise conservatorship rights on the same level as a primary or possessory conservator under a joint managing conservatorship.

Frequently, drug or alcohol addiction is a reason that is used to justify a sole managing conservator. This is an extreme example that I will discuss when the subject of sole managing conservatorships comes up in conversation with a client or a potential client of the Law Office of Bryan Fagan.

Our office represented a mother in Houston a few years ago whose daughter visited with her father during a divorce case immediately after being issued temporary orders. The parents had been named joint managing conservators in those temporary orders, with the father had the right to possess his daughter on the first, third, and fifth weekends of each month. This fairly standard possession schedule was almost exactly like a standard possession order in the Texas Family Code.

A major issue arose when our client’s husband was driving under alcohol with the child in the vehicle. This occurs during the middle of one of his weekend periods of Visitation. Our client’s husband was arrested and was awakened at night with a call from the police saying that she had to come immediately to the arrest scene to pick up the child. This greatly upset our client and set the stage for her filing of an immediate petition to modify the temporary orders.

The temporary orders restricted the husband’s Visitation a great deal. They only allowed four additional Visitation periods once remedial measures were taken like drug and alcohol counseling and testing for alcohol before periods of Visitation. The husband cannot drive to any place with the child other than at the grocery store or a doctor’s visit. These were understandably strict requirements that were put in place to prevent anything like this from happening again.

In the long term, we negotiated for a sole managing conservatorship where our client was named the sole managing conservator of the child. This did not have to go before the judge as to the circumstances and facts or entirely in our favor. It would be nearly impossible for someone to argue it is in a child’s best interest to be in regular contact with someone who would drive under the influence of them.

Fathers beware of the joint custody “trap.”

Are you a dad who is reading this blog post? Are you going through a divorce or child custody case and worried that your child’s mother stands in between you and your kiddo? Are you worried about not winning any time in the case with you and losing your relationship with them? Has your co-parent threatened you with having all your time taken away? If so, then this section of today’s blog post is for you.

Importantly, I wanted to reach out to any father reading the blog to talk about how believing in the idea that joint custody of your child is the ideal set-up for your post-divorce or post-child custody case. The reality is that it is normal to worry about your future if you are beginning your family law case. You have no way of knowing how the case is going to proceed. You have no way of knowing what the results of the case will be, either.

When I am worried about something, I tend to feel that way because I am limited in my options. Limited options mean that when a problem confronts you, you can take only a few different routes to try to solve that problem. Limited options can make you feel trapped and in need of a lifetime. After working with many families going through a divorce, I can tell you that these folks feel worried because they believe so much of their divorce or child custody case is out of their control. In other words- you would not be the first person to feel trapped within your family law case if that is how you feel now.

That said, I would invite you to take a second and reassess your options and situation. So much of our society is geared toward promoting fear. We are all familiar with the age-old axiom regarding the evening news: if it bleeds, it leads. Meaning: the gorier, sadder, and the top a news story is, the more likely it is to generate interest. That is why the evening news doesn’t bury the horrible stories of violence until the middle of the program. Rather, they lead off with those stories at the beginning of the news to trap you and cause you to stick around through the rest of the program.

It’s our human nature to cling to these worst-case scenarios that contribute significantly to a father’s ability to be overly pessimistic about their chances of success in a family law case. This is true across the board, by the way. Fathers of all kinds- good dads, not-so-great dads, dads who take an actively involved role in their children’s lives, or fathers who take little to no interest in their children’s lives all believe this way. Interestingly, fathers seemingly have little in common tend to think similarly once involved in a child custody or divorce case.

Why then, are I would ask myself, is this the case? How do fathers with little in common share similar beliefs regarding their family law case prognosis when it comes to custody? I think it has much to do with the information I discussed earlier. People like to tell horror stories about their own experiences in divorce and child custody cases. As a result, we tend to hear about extreme outlier situations rather than what actually can and does happen in these family law cases.

For example, rather than listening to your friend’s cousin’s sister’s uncle’s perspective on divorce, why not consider your circumstances before assessing custody-related issues. I can tell you that your own experiences may be significantly different from those in a similar position has experienced for no other reason than their lives are slightly different from yours. These fathers involved in family law cases across the state experience success because they are not bound by the stories and stereotypes they hear from other people. Rather, these men stick to their guns and choose to live their lives based on their well-being and that of their children.

While there is nothing wrong as a father in being awarded joint custody in your divorce or child custody case, the reality is that you should not settle for joint custody if there is something better available to you. Often, fathers will settle for joint custody because they believe that fathers can’t be awarded primary custody. I can tell you that this is not the case. Fathers who say they have no better options available tend to make worse decisions, all things being equal.

However, you are opening up a wide world of possibilities by allowing yourself to consider the possibility that you could be awarded more parenting time than your spouse or child’s mother. Do not back yourself into a corner; instead, consider the possibility that you could be awarded more parenting time than your spouse. Of course, you need to position yourself before the beginning of the case to give yourself a chance at this sort of outcome.

Legal Definitions of Joint Custody

When understanding joint custody, it’s essential to know the legal definitions and provisions governing this arrangement. Unfortunately, the article fails to provide a specific legal definition or reference any statutory provisions related to joint custody. However, examining family law and court practices can shed light on what joint custody entails.

Factors Considered in Determining Joint Custody

Courts consider several factors when determining whether joint custody is appropriate. The child’s best interests are paramount, as judges aim to ensure a stable and nurturing environment. Additionally, the court evaluates the ability of parents to cooperate effectively, the geographical proximity of the parents’ residences, and other relevant factors that impact the child’s well-being. Despite the article’s oversight, these considerations significantly influence custody decisions.

Types of Joint Custody Arrangements

The article neglects to mention the different types of joint custody arrangements available. Joint custody can be divided into two main categories: joint legal custody and joint physical custody. Joint legal custody refers to shared decision-making authority, where parents have equal rights and responsibilities in making important decisions about the child’s upbringing. On the other hand, joint physical custody involves the shared physical custody of the child, with both parents having substantial parenting time. Understanding these distinctions is crucial in comprehending joint custody.

Joint Custody Arrangement


Joint Legal Custody

Both parents have equal decision-making authority regarding the child’s upbringing, including education, healthcare, and religious matters.

Joint Physical Custody

The child spends significant time with both parents, often on an equal or shared basis, promoting a balanced and consistent presence in their lives.

Split Custody

In cases with multiple children, each parent is granted custody of one or more of the children, allowing siblings to live primarily with different parents.

Nesting Custody

The child remains in one primary residence, while the parents take turns living with the child according to a predetermined schedule.

Parallel Parenting

This arrangement is suitable for high-conflict situations, where parents have limited direct contact and primarily communicate through written means.

Pros and Cons of Joint Custody

While the article fails to provide a balanced discussion, it’s essential to consider the advantages and disadvantages of joint custody. For parents, joint custody allows for shared responsibility, decision-making authority, and active involvement in their child’s life. It promotes cooperation and encourages parents to work together in their child’s best interests. However, joint custody can also present challenges, including potential conflicts, difficulties in coordinating schedules, and the need for effective communication. Recognizing the benefits and potential drawbacks is vital for parents considering joint custody.

Requirements for Obtaining Joint Custody

The article overlooks the specific requirements and criteria parents must meet to obtain joint custody. Generally, courts consider factors such as the history of parental involvement in the child’s life, the ability to provide a stable and nurturing environment, and the willingness to promote the child’s relationship with the other parent. Presenting a well-structured parenting plan that addresses the child’s needs and demonstrates a commitment to shared decision-making is also essential. Understanding these requirements can help parents prepare their case for joint custody.

Modification of Joint Custody Arrangements

While the article fails to mention it, joint custody arrangements can be modified in the future under certain circumstances. Changes in the child’s needs or significant changes in the parents’ circumstances, such as relocation or remarriage, may warrant a modification of the custody arrangement. Courts consider the best interests of the child when evaluating modification requests. Parents need to be aware of their options and the possibility of seeking modifications if necessary.

Alternatives to Joint Custody

Although joint custody is often the desired outcome, it may not be feasible or in the child’s best interests in some cases. The article overlooks alternative custody arrangements that may be considered. For instance, sole custody may be granted when one parent is better suited to meet the child’s needs, or in cases involving domestic violence or substance abuse. Split custody, where siblings are divided between parents, or supervised Visitation in high-conflict situations are also alternatives to joint custody. Understanding these alternatives helps parents explore the most appropriate custody arrangement for their unique circumstances.

Mediation and Dispute Resolution

The article neglects to address the role of mediation and alternative dispute resolution methods in reaching joint custody agreements and resolving conflicts between parents. Mediation can provide a supportive environment where parents can work through their differences with the assistance of a neutral third party. It promotes communication, cooperation, and the development of mutually beneficial parenting plans. Alternative dispute resolution methods offer an alternative to lengthy court battles and can help parents find collaborative solutions.

Parenting Plans and Schedules

Developing comprehensive parenting plans and schedules is vital in joint custody arrangements, yet the article fails to provide information. A parenting plan outlines the details of custody and Visitation, including decision-making responsibilities, holiday schedules, and transportation arrangements. Creating a well-thought-out plan that addresses the child’s needs and promotes stability and consistency is crucial for successful joint custody. Parents should strive to develop schedules that accommodate both parents’ availability and the child’s routines.

Co-Parenting Communication and Cooperation

The importance of effective communication and cooperation between co-parents cannot be overstated, yet the article fails to emphasize this aspect. Successful joint custody relies on open and respectful communication between parents. Co-parents should strive to resolve conflicts amicably, focusing on the child’s best interests. Implementing strategies such as utilizing communication tools, setting discussion guidelines, and seeking professional help when needed can contribute to smoother co-parenting dynamics.

Impact of Joint Custody on Child Development

Understanding the potential impact of joint custody on a child’s development is crucial, but the article does not explore this aspect. Research suggests that joint custody can positively affect children, promoting healthy relationships with both parents and providing stability. It can improve emotional well-being, improved social skills, and academic success. However, individual circumstances vary, and the impact of joint custody may differ for each child. Recognizing these potential effects helps parents make informed decisions.

Parental Rights and Responsibilities in Joint Custody

The article fails to elaborate on parents’ specific rights and responsibilities in a joint custody arrangement. Joint custody grants parents the right to access information about the child’s education, medical care, and other important aspects of their life. Both parents are involved in major decisions affecting the child, such as healthcare choices, religious upbringing, and education. Understanding these rights and responsibilities helps parents navigate joint custody and actively participate in their child’s life.

Cultural and Jurisdictional Variations

While the article primarily focuses on the perspective of Texas family law, it fails to acknowledge that the concept and implementation of joint custody may vary across different cultures and legal jurisdictions. Custody laws and practices can differ significantly, and it’s important to consider the specific cultural and legal context when discussing joint custody. Understanding these variations helps provide a more comprehensive and inclusive view of joint custody.

Support and Resources for Co-Parents

The article overlooks the importance of support and resources available to co-parents navigating joint custody arrangements. Various support groups, counseling services, and online communities provide valuable guidance and assistance to parents facing the challenges of co-parenting. These resources offer a platform to share experiences, seek advice, and access valuable information on effective co-parenting strategies. Acknowledging and utilizing these resources can greatly benefit co-parents and their children.

High-Conflict Custody Cases

Lastly, the article neglects to address the specific considerations and strategies relevant to high-conflict custody cases where joint custody may not be feasible or suitable. High-conflict situations, such as ongoing disputes and animosity between parents, may require alternative custody arrangements or specialized interventions. Courts may implement safeguards, such as supervised visitation or detailed parenting plans, to protect the child’s well-being in such cases. Recognizing the challenges of high-conflict cases is essential in developing appropriate custody arrangements.

In conclusion, while the article touches on joint custody, it fails to understand the topic comprehensively. Exploring legal definitions, factors considered in custody determinations, types of joint custody arrangements, pros and cons, requirements, modifications, alternatives, and other relevant aspects helps create a more holistic view of joint custody. Additionally, considering cultural and jurisdictional variations, understanding the impact on child development, and recognizing the importance of support and resources for co-parents contribute to a more informative and well-rounded discussion.


And there you have it, intrepid readers! We’ve unraveled the mysteries of joint custody, empowering you with knowledge and insight to navigate the challenging world of co-parenting. We’ve covered everything from legal definitions to the factors that courts consider, from different types of arrangements to the pros and cons. But before we bid adieu, let’s recap our adventure, shall we?

Short Answer:

Joint custody is like a superhero team-up—a dynamic co-parenting arrangement where both parents share decision-making and quality time with their children.

Throughout this exhilarating journey, we’ve discovered the importance of effective communication, the impact of joint custody on child development, and the resources available to support you on this wild ride. Remember, dear reader, and you’re not alone in this quest. From support groups to counseling services, a helping hand is just a click or a call away.

So, as you embark on your own joint custody odyssey, remember the power lies in your hands. Embrace the opportunities, conquer the challenges, and forge a path that puts your children’s best interests at the forefront.

Now, armed with this newfound knowledge, create a future where cooperation, love, and shared parenting triumph over adversity. You’ve got this, and we’re cheering you on every step of the way!

Until we meet again, dear reader, may your co-parenting journey be filled with laughter, growth, and precious moments with your little ones. Keep shining bright and revel in the beauty of joint custody—the remarkable adventure where parents become superheroes for their children. Happy parenting!

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  7. Joint Custody and Child Support in your Texas divorce
  8. Joint Managing Conservators in a Child Custody Case in Texas?

Frequently Asked Questions

What does joint mean in custody?

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Do you pay child support with joint custody in Texas?

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What custody arrangement is best for a child?

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What is the difference between custodial and joint?

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What is the most common custody arrangement in the United States?

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How often do fathers get 50-50 custody in Texas?

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