Pros and Cons of Joint Custody Implications for Parents and Children

Child custody issues are among the most difficult to plan for because of a divorce. Having to negotiate how to best divide the time of your children between you and your spouse is a topic that frequently pushes people towards contested trials and difficult mediation sessions. There are many different options that you can choose from when comes to a possession schedule. With so many options and with the well-being of your child at stake you should take the time to consider your options. 

There are going to be advantages and disadvantages to any child custody plan or method for dividing up parenting time. This is the backdrop for today’s blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. We are going to walk you through the pros and cons of joint custody division after a Texas divorce. If you have any questions about the material contained in this blog post, we invite you to contact our office today for a free-of-charge consultation with one of our experienced family law attorneys

What is child custody?

Child custody refers to the legal relationship between you and your child. When you and your spouse go through a divorce your child custody rights and duties are going to be extremely important. They will shape your ability to raise your child and impact their life. You need to think about what the needs of your child are both now and, in the future, when it comes to this subject. Helping your child be able to have every advantage possible is an important goal of many parents who go through this process. 

When a court looks at the child custody circumstances of your child it does so through a lens shaped by your child’s best interests. Different factors that are considered when determining the best interests of your child include their age, health, educational needs, your ability to provide for your child, and the ability of your co-parent to do the same. It can be a challenge to think about something that may be in the best interests of your child but is not necessarily in your own best interests. 

Depending upon what is decided in your child custody case there is a nearly unlimited range of outcomes when you talk about child custody division. These types of child custody division are referred to as sole custody, joint custody as well as shared custody. Sole custody provides one parent with nearly all of the rights and duties when it comes to raising their child. This includes a range of topics such as education, healthcare, and more. Sole custody outcomes in child custody cases are not common but they are possible. 

Joint custody is not only the topic of today’s blog post but also the most common method of dividing rights and duties relating to children in Texas. You and your co-parent will share custody of your children. This means that you both will have the opportunity to make decisions about the upbringing of the kids. You will need to be able to see past your differences with your co-parent towards the best interests of your children. You will also need to understand your court orders well enough to sort through those differences of opinion when that time comes. 

Shared custody, or split custody, is the last type of custody division that we are going to speak about today. Both you and your co-parent will effectively divide the calendar right down the middle with both of you having equal time with the kids. Your rights and duties will also be divided on an even basis. This means that you should not lose sight of the fact that co-parenting is essential to this type of custody agreement. It all sounds good and well in theory but split custody forces parents to coordinate their efforts. 

What are the different factors that could impact your child custody case?

We have already touched on the best interests standard as being of extreme importance when it comes to determining the outcome of your child custody case. Again, the best interests standard attempts to take into consideration not only the child’s current situation but what will be best for him in the future. Next, the best interests of your child do not necessarily mean what it is your best interests. For some parents in your position, this is as tough a lesson as any in the entirety of your family law case. 

The age of your child is a factor that cannot be changed but is vitally important to the type of custody arrangement that comes from your family law case. The needs of your child will be different depending upon whether they are aged three or sixteen. A sixteen-year-old probably does not have the same need to have everyday contact with one parent or the other as a three-year-old does. This is even more true for an infant who is still breastfeeding, for example. 

Where the situation has almost one hundred percent direct relation to your parenting skills is when a court would consider both you and your co-parent’s abilities to provide and care for your child. I do not necessarily mean which parent makes more money- you or your co-parent. Certainly, an income makes a difference when it comes to determining which parent is more capable of caring for your child. However, there are “soft” factors which matter, too.

Which parent has the child come to rely upon for day-to-day care? Which parent does your child go to for help with homework? Which parent helps your child administer their medicine each morning or evening? These are the real-life circumstances that will be considered by a judge if it comes to that point. To be at an advantage when it comes to this area you would need to show that you have been a constant source of care for your child. 

In many cases, this is where fathers begin to suspect that the “game” is rigged against them. Fathers will come to the Law Office of Bryan Fagan for a free-of-charge consultation and will ask questions about whether they have a chance at split or joint custody. Once we inform them that joint custody is the default setting in a child custody case many fathers will breathe a visible sigh of relief. The reason for this sigh of relief has to do with the belief among dads that mothers have a structural advantage in the world of family law. 

Neither fathers nor mothers have any explicit advantage in a family law case. However, as we have already seen, family law cases are incredibly fact-dependent. The law matters but the facts almost matter more. So, if a best interests determination has to be made surrounding your child that is going to be done based on which parent has performed the lion’s share of the parenting to that point. If it is you, then you would have an advantage. If it is your spouse, then the opposite is true. 

Fathers who work outside the home are not doing any wrong but also do not gain the same level of responsibility on a day-to-day parenting basis as compared to mothers. This is the source of the widespread belief that fathers do not have the same opportunities when compared to mothers in a child custody case. While it is not necessarily true based on the law, the facts of your case may tell a different story. 

If you are a good dad who wants to find out more about how he can win as much time with his kids as possible then reach out to the Law Office of Bryan Fagan today. We know how to present evidence to a judge in a compelling and meaningful fashion. We treat dads with dignity and respect. A free-of-charge consultation with one of our licensed family law attorneys is only a phone call away. 

What does a CPS history have to do with it?

A history with Child Protective Services (CPS) will factor into a best interests determination. CPS investigates reports of abuse and/or neglect of children. If a report comes into CPS that your child was abused or neglected by you or that co-parent, then that history with CPS will be a crucial determining factor when it comes to assigning conservatorship rights and duties. This is especially true if the CPS history is recent- fewer than two years before the filing of your divorce or child custody case. 

The specific findings are important when it comes to a CPS case. If CPS is unable to determine that abuse or neglect occurred, then the CPS investigation would not amount to much in the grand scheme of things related to your child. On the other hand, the specific nature of the abuse or neglect if a finding was made against you or a co-parent would matter a great deal. What we are trying to avoid is a circumstance where you have to answer to a judge about a finding that occurred many years ago. 

To help your attorney in this regard, be sure to share information with him or her early in your case related to a CPS investigation. It is not enough to assume that your attorney will figure it out on their own. Rather, you need to be upfront and honest and your history with uncomfortable subject matter. This way you and your attorney can plan for anything that comes your way. Trust us when we say that your opposing counsel will certainly know about any history that you’ve had with CPS or anything else that is less than pleasant in your parenting past. 

Would sole custody be an option in your case?

As with anything in the field of family law, it depends on the facts of your case whether sole custody would be an option for your family. From taking things purely from a percentages standpoint, sole custody is not a likely option for your case. Most families end up with joint custody or something similar to it as a result of their family law case. However, let’s at least give the topic some amount of attention here in today’s blog post. 

When one parent has exclusive physical and legal custody of your child that is sole custody. Many times, a parent will come into our office and will tell us that their co-parent has threatened him or her with a sole custody situation if he or she does not give in to that parent’s demands. We will typically ask more about the situation to determine if sole custody would even be a viable option on the part of a family court judge. Much of the time it is not. 

Sole custody reflects a co-parenting relationship that is one-sided, to say the least. For example, if you are the only parent to take your child to school, to the doctor, help with homework, and generally be present for him then a sole custody arrangement may be in their best interests. Your co-parent may have good intentions and otherwise do the best that he or she can, but not being physically present in the home of your child matters in a best interests determination. 

Another situation where you may be able to win sole custody of your child is if your co-parent is deemed to be unfit or otherwise unable to properly discharge their duties as a parent. A long history of substance abuse, an inability to maintain employment, a CPS history involving your child, etc. These are all reasons why your co-parent may be seen to be not a great fit for a joint managing conservatorship. In that case, you should explore options with your experienced family law attorney that help your child achieve the best possible future. 

Sole custody offers your child a consistent and stable living environment. When safety has been a major concern for your child then this is an especially appealing factor. Think about if your child has been abused or neglected by your parent previously. Having sole custody of your child puts you in the driver’s seat as far as decision-making authority. Having a set parenting schedule so you can have court orders that spell out a possession schedule that is clear and unambiguous is also nice. 

Sole custody also works better for your child if you and your co-parent have largely been unable to work together effectively to raise your child. We will grant you that it takes two to tango when it comes to parenting. Your good faith efforts to co-parent may not amount to much success when your co-parent does not reciprocate those feelings. When you have a long parenting history like this it pays to be able to present a case to the family court that shows you have been diligently attempting to parent but have been unable to do so because of a lack of effort on the part of a co-parent. 

Pros and cons of joint custody

What can we take away from today’s blog post? First, let’s start with the pros of a joint managing conservatorship of your child. The state of Texas believes that children should have a relationship with both of their parents. A joint managing conservatorship better allows for this to occur. Your child will get to know both parents, see both parents more frequently, and can better adapt to changes in their lives. Both you and your co-parent will have an equal say in the child-rearing department. Neither one of you will have many “trump cards” to play, in other words. 

On the other hand, you and your co-parent will need to have a good relationship with one another to make a joint custody situation work. If that is neither of your strong suits, then you may need to work on those skills or consider other custody arrangements. Frequent travel between homes is commonplace in a joint custody situation. Depending upon the nature of the travel, such as long distances, this could also prohibit you all from a joint custody arrangement. 

Ultimately, it is up to you and your family to determine which arrangement works best for you all. Your child may not be old enough to offer an opinion on the subject. Or your child may be of the perfect age (in your opinion) to offer their opinion as to custody. Whatever the circumstances are in your case, the attorneys at the Law Office of Bryan Fagan can help you achieve your goals. Whether you are interested in pursuing joint custody or something different, our attorneys have the experience and knowledge you need to hit the ground running in your family law case. 

Questions about the material contained in today’s blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan

If you have any questions about the material contained in today’s blog post, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free-of-charge consultations six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are a great way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law as well as how your family may be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody case. 

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