In considering children remember that the primary responsibility of all courts is to consider the best interest of children. There are three major factors involved in the children to be resolved. Conservatorship, which is the legal term defining the rights and duties awarded things parent, child support in possession and access which is the same thing as visitation. The first to these factors is conservatorship. You’ve probably heard the term joint custody, in Texas there’s no such thing. Here we have two different types a conservatorship, sole and joint managing conservatorship. With sole managing conservatorship, one parent is named the sole managing conservator and the other parent is named the possessory conservator. With joint managing conservatorship one parent is named the joint managing conservator with primary possession and the other parent is named the joint managing conservator without primary possession.
The primary difference between the two is with joint managing conservatorship we try to establish the sharing of decision-making for the children and with joint managing conservatorship the court will often place a geographic restriction on where the children can live. The court will often require that the children not be moved out of a certain geographic area or county.
The second major consideration is child support. Texas has basic guidelines for child support. These guidelines require one parent to pay a percentage of their income to support their children. This percent will vary based upon the number of children involved. Additional child support is not normally awarded for such things as day care, extracurricular activities and other similar expenses. However, child support above guidelines may be awarded if the children has special needs or and other special circumstances. If you believe your child should be entitled to additional transport above the guidelines discuss this with your lawyer early in your case. Additionally, the paying parent is often required to maintain health insurance for the children and generally must pay half of any medical expenses not covered by the health insurance policy.
The third factor we look at his visitation. Here again our state has guidelines to try to make visitation fair, insure access to both parties and in turn protect the best interest for the children. We call these guidelines the standard possession order. When children are over a certain age this order provides visitation on the first, third and fifth weekends of the month. Alternating spring breaks 30 days during the summer, every other Thanksgiving, split Christmas, school vacations and other holidays throughout the year. Parties that live more than a hundred miles apart have a slightly different visitation schedule. These guidelines have become the standard and they work for thousands of families around the state. You can review an entire standard possession order and see all your options associated therewith at www. texasfamilylawinfo.com.
Finally in San Antonio, Houston, Dallas, Austin and many other Texas communities all parents getting divorced will be required to take a parenting course part of the court signing your final decree of divorce. Check with your attorney to see whether or not you’re part of the state requires this course. If so, take it as soon as you can because without it the signing of the divorce decree may be delayed besides it’s a good course that will ultimately benefit your children.