One of the many concerns that parents have heading into either a child custody case or a divorce case concerns the chances of losing time with their children for reasons beyond their control. I've worked with loving, diligent parents who should have no reason to be concerned with the likelihood that they may lose time with their children in the divorce. However, the stress is off the family law case can get the best of even the most rational in a level-headed parent. For that reason, it is always a struggle to maintain your confidence, and you're a clear-headed approach to parenting during difficult stretches of your particular family law case.
There are so many twists in turns with a typical family law case that it is understandable to have anxiety regarding various parts. You can feel that the case is out of your control and that everything you are doing is 4, not if you cannot accomplish all of your goals within the case. Specifically, many parents enter into a family law case with the singular goal of being named the primary conservator of their children. If it becomes apparent that this goal cannot be reached, then you may have to shift your goals or approach your case from a different perspective. The reason being is that if you continue to approach your case from the standpoint of trying to accomplish a goal that is out of reach, you will find yourself frustrated with your case and with yourself. This is not a great headspace to be in when completing a difficult family law case.
Rather, as you will find, sometimes it is necessary to shift your goals as your family law case circumstances change. These goals will often be refined during a case as you find out more information about what can and cannot be achieved. For instance, you may have had an overarching goal to become the primary Conservatory for children. Having the kids stay with you in your home during the school year probably appealed to you greatly.
Being able to make sure your kids get to school each day and see them each school day evening was likely a goal of yours from the outset of your case. However, you may also find that you cannot realistically fulfill this obligation for your children due to various circumstances in your case. At that point, you need to shift your goals and do the best you can with the circumstances in place for your case.
What responsibilities do you have regarding your children daily?
It may sound silly to go through these types of mundane everyday events in your family's life. Still, I can assure you that it is important to determine your ability to be named as the primary conservator of your children. You may have had the idea in your mind that the concepts that you were going to be discussing in your case were more lofty or difficult to manage. However, the reality of the situation is that in a family law case, your ability to win on many issues comes down to an inability to be there for your children in several ways on the mundane and seemingly small issues of the day.
For example, who does the shopping in your house for groceries? Do you know what your children eat and how to prepare a meal for them? While this may seem like a relatively small point in the grand scheme of things, this is a big deal to many families and family court judges. Ensuring that your child has food to eat every day and a good diet is an important period; if you cannot show a judge that you can prepare food for your children, then cook for them. You are Mike Lee in the worst position than your Co-parent to be named as the primary caretaker. Furthermore, it is also helping to show a family court judge that you have also been the primary person to host important meals and events for your family over time.
Next, have you been the parent to help not only clean your home but ensure that your children learn the lessons of discipline and hard work? If you are frequently out of the house, this does not mean that you are a bad parent or not taking your responsibilities seriously. It does mean that your role in raising your children may be different from what a traditional primary conservator does. This does not mean that you are a bad parent but may mean that you half two consider the likelihood of being named his primary conservator despite any of the other challenges you experience.
Another important factor to consider is to what extent you have played the role of primary caretaker for your children during their school work period. Have you helped them prepare for their school the following day? That means getting homework ready and helping to make sure the kids are bathed and in bed on time and otherwise ready to take on the challenges of a specific school day. This changes as your child ages about you would be better off providing proof, but you have played a role in your child's life in this regard.
Likewise, to what extent have your children relied upon you for transportation to and from school events? It may be that you have been the person to provide transportation to and from school events, extracurricular activities, and other activities for your kids. Especially living in a city like ours, proving that you have been but disregarding the primary care is important.
What does it mean to have joint custody?
The term joint custody is one that we see come right a bit during what came along family says. Many parents come to our office and tell us that their goal is to be in a joint custody situation with their Co-parent and children. Joint custody has the illusion of being exactly 5050 custody for children, but that is not always the case. In a practical sense, it is challenging to have the same custody breakdown with your Co-parent. But everything else can be done fairly evenly when it comes to custody if you and your fire Co-parent can work together throughout your case.
To me, joint custody needs to be explained to someone learning about the child custody process as not legally defined in the Texas family code. Courts frequently do order joint custody but do not always define it that way in court orders or even in talking to clients in the courtroom. Joint legal custody usually means that you and your Co-parent will share and making the decisions and holding the rights that impact your child daily. Educational and medical decisions are at the top of the list for your child, such as where they will attend school and whether or not they will have medical procedures that are non-emergency in nature. Some of these decisions must be made jointly with your co-parent, while others can be made independently without consulting.
On the other hand, joint physical custody means that you all will be sharing custody on a near leaf, even split, as far as that is concerned. There are many ways for you to be able to share physical custody of your kids. This could mean that you all share week-on-end week off custody for children, alternate possession every other day, or something in between. A lot of this depends upon where you live and where your Co-parent lives. Logistics play a big part in this discussion, and you cannot always accurately predict what will happen in the future as far as living situations for you and your family.
What are some of the consequences of having joint legal custody of your children?
The effects of having joint custody with your Co-parent can differ for your family compared even to families who face similar circumstances. For one, when you have joint custody of your child, that requires that you be in a position to be able to work with and coordinate efforts with your Co-parent more often than if you had sole custody of your child. However, this does not mean that sole custody of the child is better for your children. I think there is a great deal for your child to gain from seeing their parents work together to do what is best for their interests both in the short term and long term.
However, it does mean that having joint legal custody is a significant step for your family to take as far as cooperation with one another. You will need to reach agreements when your child is concerned rather than make decisions on your own without consulting with the other parent. For many families coming off of a divorce or child custody case, this may not be easy to do. Setting aside differences in doing what is best for your children, yes, sometimes more easily said than done. Many times the disagreements that we have with our spouse or parent involves the children. If this is the case with your family, you will have to work very hard to see to it that the problems you are experiencing do not hinder your ability to raise your child as a shared unit.
Many of the consequences of having joint legal custody for children with a Co-parent are beneficial for your child. For instance, both you and your Co-parent can provide real home environments for your child that allow them to feel comfortable. This would include having their bedroom with toys, activities, and clothing to allow him or them to feel like they are at home no matter where they are sleeping that night. No matter what other changes are going on in your child's life, they can feel like they always have a place to have stable and consistent love and attention.
On the other hand, in situations where a parent has sole custody, that means that the other parent will almost certainly have limitations as far as presenting a real-life home environment to your child when that child is with you. For instance, no matter how hard you work as a parent, if you are the possessory parent of your child, you will have an uphill battle to show them that you are offering them just as much of a home as their day-to-day living arrangements. This can be frustrating, but keep in mind that if you show your child consistent love and attention, that may be enough to overcome any of the challenges presented through your family law case.
Disadvantages to having joint physical custody of your children
Many parents see joint physical custody as being the ideal custody breakdown. Certainly, it would appear to be ideal for you and your co-parent to both be able to weigh in on your child's life and make decisions on their behalf. However, as with anything in life, there are challenges to having joint physical custody of your child with a Co-parent. In closing out today's blog post, I would like to walk with you through some of those challenges.
For one, I could see that having to transport your child back and forth between homes on a repeated basis could be difficult for your family. While being able to see both parents, it's certainly an A-plus for your child; the reality is that your child may not ever develop a sense of home because they feel like they are being shuttled back and forth in between both homes, too frequently ever to develop a sense of continuity with where they live. This can be a problem for low-income families and almost certainly is something that you and your Co-parent will have to look out for when working on joint custody of your child. Simply put, do you all live close enough to accommodate one another in this way.
As I often say on this blog, consistency and stability in your child's life is a critical period. I think this is especially true not only for younger children but for teenagers as well. Our children function best when they have the schedule to go off of and consistency and who they are spending time with and when. This may mean minimizing travel time but allowing one parent to have slightly more overall time with the child is important and beneficial. However, only you can answer these important questions for your family by determining what works best for you all and what your child needs as far as consistent capacity is concerned.
Another consideration is that your child may have to reckon with having different sets of rules in different homes. For instance, something as simple as having a different bedtime at your house instead of your Co parent's house may be enough to cause them to feel that the rules are different enough to mean that they can take advantage of them. Their schoolwork may suffer as a result, and they may perceive different types of encouragement or discipline when it comes to performing in the classroom. Rather, they may do better if they had a more consistent schedule with one parent and then could have extended time with the other parent at a later date.
You need to figure out what works best for your family and then move forward from there. It is unlikely that dear child will function the same in two different environments. And period, with that, said, it is important to note that you cannot know at the beginning of a divorce or child custody case exactly how your child will react to two lives at the end of a case. With that said, you need to move forward and pay attention to the little things when raising children together.
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 our way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law and learn more about how your family circumstances may be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody case.