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Understanding Time Sharing Navigating Parental Responsibilities in Texas

One of the most profound changes for a family in a divorce is sharing time with the kids. Previously, your life consisted of you seeing your kids as often as you’d like. Now that has changed. There is a possession schedule that families follow in Texas which allows both parents access to the kids. However, this possession and access comes at specific times. You are not able to come and pick up the kids from school whenever you want. Rather, you need to abide by the terms of your parenting plan. This is an adjustment for most parents. Why is parenting time divided up in this way?

All decisions made on behalf of children are done with their best interests in mind. The best interests of the child standard is a tried and true method for dividing parenting time among other things. The best interest of the child standard seeks to account for your child’s needs both now and in the future. Your child’s health, well-being, emotional development, and daily life are all thought about when it comes to their best interest.

Working through issues related to the best interests of your children is a hallmark of a family law case in Texas. For that reason, the Law Office of Bryan Fagan would like to share with you some tips and tricks geared toward helping you manage your case. Stay with us today as we delve into navigating parental responsibilities and shared parenting time.

Parents have the power to divide time with their kids 

Before we go any further, it is important to note that you and your co-parent can negotiate between yourselves on these issues. It is not as if a judge gets the first crack at solving these problems. Rather, you and your child’s other parent get to attack the issues first. Even if the two of you do not agree on much these days this is for the best interests of your children. The reason is that nobody knows your circumstances with the kids better than the two of you. 

As a result, consider the best interests of your children in looking at subjects like this. One of the first difficult realizations that a parent must make in a child custody case is that your best interests may not be the same as your child’s best interests. For instance, your instinct may tell you to try and push for as much time with your children as possible. You may choose to do this in a way that limits your child’s other parent from seeing him or her regularly. While this may be what you want in the divorce it probably is not in the best interests of your children.

Rather, consider that your child benefits from having a relationship with both you and your co-parent. There are exceptions to this rule. In some situations, parents have not shown the ability to care for their children well. However, in most divorce and child custody circumstances your child does better when a relationship is had with both of his or her parents. Consider this as you work through the issues in a shared parenting situation.

Negotiating with your co-parent

One of the difficult yet important aspects of a family law case involving children is the willingness to negotiate with your opposing party. In a legal sense, this person may be the opposing party. However, the reality of your situation is that this person is the other parent of your child. For the future of your relationship, the two of you need to be able to work together on issues involving your children.

It feels like the end of a relationship during a family law case. You may look at the other parent as someone who is a part of your past more than your future. However, this is not accurate. The truth is your relationship is changing but it is not going away. As a result, it will be a mistake to think that this is the last interaction you will ever have with this person.

The challenges in co-parenting households are many. All the coordination that was needed when you and your child’s other parent lived together is even more important now that you’re living in separate households.

Treating your child’s other parent with respect during negotiations is key to being able to achieve success. It may be your instinct to push as hard as you can for your positions, but this can quickly alienate your opposing party. Rather, attempt to be civil with him or her. Try to see things from their perspective. You likely will not negotiate as aggressively as you otherwise would, but you help yourself by being able to act more civilly toward the other person. In the long run, this helps to achieve goals you otherwise would not have considered.

Look to your parenting past to plan the future

In a shared parenting situation, the roles that you and your child’s other parents have played to this point are likely what you all will continue with after the case is over. For example, let’s say that you have acted as your child’s primary conservator and caretaker. Your husband has been the primary breadwinner but is oftentimes out of the house for work periods he is not doing anything wrong and is serving his role in the family. You are still the primary caretaker for the kids. 

What does this mean for your divorce? It likely means that you are going to be named as the primary conservator of your children. The primary conservator of the children tends to take care of the children often and determines their primary residence. This does not mean that your child’s father is not an able parent. All it means is that he has not taken on the role of being a primary conservator to this point. It will be difficult for him to win this responsibility in your divorce.

For this reason, setting manageable goals with your attorney is incredibly important. Having never cared for the children primarily your husband would have an uphill climb to win this right in the divorce. Trying to push for this designation in a divorce may end up costing time and money better spent elsewhere. Having an attorney who can give you honest advice in a circumstance like this is crucial. The last thing you want is to spend time on a goal that is beyond your capabilities currently.

More on the Standard Possession Order

In the standard possession order, there are an unlimited number of ways that you and your child’s other parent could conceivably divide up your parenting schedule. However, the most common method employed by families in Texas is under a Standard Possession Order (SPO). This is a method of dividing up time with your children that is outlined in the Texas  Family Code which involves alternating weekends of possession with the parent who has visitation rights possessing the children on the first, 3rd, and 5th weekends of each month. There is a Thursday evening possession each week and alternating holiday periods of possession. 

Of course, there are numerous ways to divide your time with the children coming out of a divorce or child custody case. You may consider that the needs of your family at this time do not allow for a standard possession order to be used. There is nothing wrong with this. At the end of the day, you must consider the best interests of your children and account for those throughout the family law case. Making decisions based on what other people have done is not a great way to proceed for your family.

What parenting schedule suits you the best?

Even though the best interests of your child matter most when it comes to issues related to the possession and access of your children, your needs don’t matter. Most notably, you need to consider what type of parenting schedule functions best when it comes to your other responsibilities in life. For this reason, being able to creatively make a parenting schedule in your family law case matters. The last thing you want is to have a parenting schedule that does not allow you to take advantage of all the time afforded to you.

Let’s consider a situation where you work outside of town and need to travel to see your kids. When traffic is light, this is no big deal. However, at 6:00 PM on a Friday it is difficult to get from work to your children on time. It may be your desire to be able to do this every week, but the reality of your situation does not allow for it. What this means is you need to make alternative plans during your family law case to account for this limitation.

Instead of picking the children up at 6:00 on your weekend periods of possession, you may need to do so at 6:30. It is better to take less time with the children but be able to see them on schedule at each opportunity. Remember that you are also trying to manage your co-parenting relationship. Continually showing up late to pick up your children for visitation on your weekends does not exactly show respect for your child’s other parent. These are all factors that you need to think about ahead of time in your case. Managing all the relationships in your life is an essential part of being an effective parent.

Conservatorship considerations in a Texas family law case

The most used word when referencing issues related to children in Texas is custody. Everyone from judges to attorneys to the parties themselves uses this term without hesitation. Therefore, it may surprise you that the term custody is not found in the Texas Family Code even one time. Rather, custody is a more casual or familiar term used by people in day-to-day life. The legal term that encapsulates the issues of custody more clearly is known as conservatorship.

The conservatorship has to do with the rights and duties of one person about another. An adult may be a conservator of a child or even of another adult. In the context of a family law case, we are concerned with you and your conservatorship rights concerning your children. These are rights to make decisions on behalf of your children and the duty to care for your children.

So much time and attention is spent in a family law case on issues related to time and possession. This is understandable. As a parent, you want to spend as much time with your kids as possible. A family law case offers a challenge in that most parents expect that their time with their kids will be reduced significantly because of the case. As a result, parents tend to focus on time and possession with the children to the detriment of other topics.

However, sharing rights and duties relating to your kids with a co-parent is an important reality. Even if it does not come across as being as important initially this is still true. Maximizing your rights and duties in a family law case is critical to the success of your child moving forward.

Rights and duties of a parent concerning their children

Sharing rights and duties related to parenting circumstances with your child’s other parent is also a challenge. When it comes to our kids, we want to have decision-making authority. Sharing that decision-making authority with the person that you are going through a divorce with can be difficult to handle. However, the state of Texas wants parents to be able to have a say in the lives of their children. Therefore, you should expect that you and your co-parent share in the decision-making authority relating to your kids.

This is why most parents in a family law setting are known as joint managing conservators. This means that you and your child’s other parent will jointly manage the conservatorship rights and duties that each of you has concerning the kids. It is not as if either of you will be able to make all the decisions in the life of your child. This does happen in certain cases but those typically involve extreme circumstances involving drugs, alcohol, or even child abuse.

Otherwise, expect that you will be making important decisions about the well-being of your child alongside your co-parent. Neither of you will always be able to trump the other if you disagree on something. The system forces the two of you to work alongside each other. Considering the different vantage points is important to be able to manage this relationship. You will not be able to simply push for what you want and never consider the opinions of your child’s other parent.

The importance of having an experienced family law attorney

As you can see, there are a lot of moving pieces in the world of co-parenting. Additionally, there is no set way to work towards the best interests of your children. Rather, you and your child’s other parent have a wealth of resources and creative thinking available to you. It’s just a matter of determining what is in the best interest of your children. Playing to your strengths as parents is also important. The last thing you want to do is to make decisions that do not match up with the needs of your family.

This is where having an experienced family law attorney helps a great deal. Working with an experienced family law attorney matters when you are trying to arrive at solutions that allow your child to thrive after a family law case. Maximizing the time your child has with both parents should be seen as a worthwhile goal. Acknowledging the right of your co-parent to spend time with your child takes patience and understanding. However, displaying this understanding shows that you truly are gearing your case towards the best interests of your children.

Thank you for choosing to spend part of your day with us here on the blog for the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our experienced family law attorneys offer free of charge consultations six days a week. No matter what circumstance you and your family are going through in the world of Texas family law we are here for you. Our group of attorneys is unique in that we practice with a client-centric attitude and with hearts geared toward educating and assisting our clients.

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. Interested in learning more about how your family is impacted by the material in this blog post? Contact us today. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan is on your side

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