A common first question for an attorney with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC to ask a potential client in a consultation is what they would like to see happen in a best-case scenario. A common response from a potential client would be that they want “full custody” of their child.
This may surprise you who are reading this blog post but full custody is not a legal term (at least in Texas). If you review the Texas Family Code and do a search for the word “custody” you will find that the word is not found in the entire Code. The term that most closely resembles what most mean by custody is “conservatorship”.
What are the types of conservatorship designations?
Conservatorship is a legal term that is used to describe the relationship between two parents of a child when they are not married (or never were in the first place). There are two conservatorship settings that parents can find themselves living under.
Joint Managing Conservators
The first, and most common, arrangement is that both parents will be “joint managing conservators” of the child. There is a legal presumption for parents to be named joint managing conservators.
Sole Managing Conservator
The second, and far less common, designation for parents are titles of sole managing conservator/possessory conservator. Extreme circumstances and/or bad behavior on part of one parent can result in one parent being named sole managing conservator.
Conservatorship means Rights and Duties
More than merely time with the children, conservatorship divides up the rights and duties of the parents between them. The main right that divorces are fought over is the right to determine the primary residence of the child.
This means being able to choose where the child spends the bulk of their time as well as where the child will attend school. This right cannot be shared- one parent or the other will have it solely to themselves.
The parties can settle on specific agreements associated with this right as well. Settling on a certain geographic area in which the primary residence may be located or even a specific school district.
The last area of “rights and duties” that the attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC will emphasize to their clients is what we call “heads, eds, and meds”.
In non-family lawyer speak this means:
- mental health
- education and
- invasive medical decisions
These rights are shared by the parents unless otherwise agreed to.
If one parent has given the other reason to doubt their ability to take a particular right seriously they may want to fight to restrict the other parent in that particular area.
Or it could be that one parent travels frequently overseas and is generally unable to confer with when discussing major educational decisions. In such a situation, the parents may agree that the non-travelling parent shall have the exclusive right to make certain decisions on behalf of the child in the event that the other parent is unavailable for a certain period of time.
Conservatorship means dividing up time between both parents
Maybe the topic that causes the most debate among soon to be ex-spouses is the portion of conservatorship that divides up the time of the child with both parents. As we discussed a little earlier in this blog, one parent will have the right to designate the primary residence of the child.
That parent (under a joint managing conservatorship) shall be in possession of the child around 57 percent of the year. It would follow that the other joint managing conservator would have the child around 43 percent of the year.
A Standard Possession Order allows for such a breakdown of time by providing the non-primary parent with visitation on the first, third and fifth weekends of each month in addition to a two-hour period from 6-8 p.m. on Thursday evenings. The Texas Family Code details the specifics of summer and holiday visitation.
The non-primary parent is able to have an extended period of visitation during June or July as well as the ability to alternate the Fall and Winter holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Conservatorship means defining the amount of child support to be paid
The other right that parties to a divorce are concerned about from the very earliest stages of the case is the right to pay and to receive child support payments.
Unless the parties agree to not have child support be owed, a court will assign one parent the obligation to pay support and the other will have the right to receive payment of support.
The Texas Family Code has a chart by which child support is broken down as a percentage of a person’s monthly income based on how many children they are responsible to pay for. 20 percent of a parent’s net monthly income would go towards the support of one child, 25 percent towards the support of two children and so on until a maximum of 40 percent of a parent’s net monthly income can be allocated for support.
Typically, this statutorily defined child support percentage is what is applied to the obligor spouse’s income. In the event that the child of the marriage has a special need the court can order the obligor to pay a higher amount if the situation calls for it.
This support can extend beyond the time at which the child graduates high school- the normal stopping point for child support payments in Texas.
Why you should contact the attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC
Family law cases are related to the areas of your life that are the most intimate and most important to you. More so than any contract dispute, personal injury case or any other type of legal matter a family law attorney must balance knowledge of the law and the ability to be a trustworthy and empathetic advocate.
The Houston divorce attorneys at the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC pride themselves on balancing these aspects of representing clients across southeast Texas. If you have any questions about a family law matter do not hesitate to contact our office for a free of charge consultation.
If you want to know more about what you can do, CLICK the button below to get your FREE E-book: “16 Steps to Help You Plan & Prepare for Your Texas Divorce”
Other Articles you may be interested on regarding Custody
- Child Custody Basics in Texas
- When Can a Minor Child Weigh in on Custody Decisions in Texas?
- Texas Child Custody Modifications
- Amicus Attorneys in Child Custody Disputes in Texas?
- Sole Managing Conservator in a Child Custody Case in Texas?
- Teens with Children, Child Custody and Child Support in Texas
- Child Custody and Divorce in Spring, TX
- Custody and Visitation Rights of Grandparents in Texas
- 11 Things You Must Know About Texas Child Custody
- 12 Texas Custody & Conservatorship Battle Tips
Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC | Spring Divorce Lawyers
The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding divorce, it's important to speak with one of our Spring Divorce Lawyers right away to protect your rights.
Our divorce lawyers in Spring 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, PLLC by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC handles Divorce cases in Spring, Texas, Cypress, Spring, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, 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.