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Laws Vary From State To State

Child CustodyThere are many aspects of Divorce and Custody when the courts become involved. If you live in the Dallas Ft. Worth Metroplex, Dallas, Plano, Richardson and Frisco areas, it may be helpful to let you know what Custody is and what types of custody are available when it applies. If a judge determines custody, there are usually several types. Let's discuss those. What is best for the child is a consideration.

Legal Custody:

Custody applies when a parent has legal custody, that parent has does have the right to make any decisions regarding the needs of the child. The parent can make all decisions about education, health care and religion with consultation of the other parent. In most states, the courts will award joint legal custody so that both parents can retain their legal rights as far as any decisions made about or for their child.

Physical Custody:

Physical custody means that the child lives with one parent with only visitation to with the other parent. If the child spends an equal amount of time with both parents then the state might award joint physical custody giving parents the right to equal amounts of time with the child.

Sole Custody:

In this case, the parent can have either sole legal custody or sole physical custody or both. Unless it is proven that a parent is unfit, there is a trend in the Family Courts to award custody in a manner that will give the non-custodial parent an opportunity to play a larger role in their child's life. It is very rare in today's society for a court to award sole legal custody.

Even when the court orders sole physical custody, the non custodial parent is able to enjoy ample visitation. In sole physical custody, both parents share equally in any decisions made regarding the child's needs.

Joint Custody:

Joint custody means that custody of the child is awarded to both parents. It is the same as sole custody and can be awarded as joint legal custody or joint physical custody or both.

Custody issues are confusing because the laws and the language used vary from state to state. The way the final decree reads regarding custody and individual state laws determine the meaning of the wording in your divorce decree. If you are wondering about custody, you may find that the The Cornell Law School web site is a great start when researching state laws concerning child custody and other divorce laws by state. I would encourage any parent going through a divorce to research your state laws pertaining to custody for a better understanding of what to expect.

Texas Child Custody and Support Guidelines:

In most cases involving children, the best interest of the child shall always be the primary consideration in determining custody, without regard to the sex of the parent or child. Sole or joint custody may be awarded, but presumption shall be for joint managing conservators. A finding of a history of family violence involving the parents of a child removes the presumption under this subsection. The court shall use the following factors in determining custody:

  • Whether the physical, psychological, or emotional needs and development of the child will benefit from the appointment of joint managing conservators.
  • The ability of the parents to give first priority to the welfare of the child and reach shared decisions in the child's best interest.
  • Whether each parent can encourage and accept a positive relationship between the child and the other parent.
  • Whether both parents participated in child rearing before the filing of the suit.
  • The geographical proximity of the parents' residences.
  • If the child is 12 years of age or older, the child's preference, if any, regarding the person to have the exclusive right to designate the primary residence of the child.
  • Any other relevant factor.

[Based on Texas Statutes; Family Code, Chapter 153]

If you have particular questions about your case, let's set an appointment to discuss it. Please call me at 972-380-8000. Education about Texas Laws currently in effect are helpful.

Contact Information:

Rita M. Boyd, Attorney
Law Office of Rita M. Boyd, P.C.
5057 Keller Springs Road
Suite 300
Addison TX 75001
Phone: 972-380-8000
Email: Email Rita
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*Rita M. Boyd is not certified by Texas Board of Legal Specialization.

The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. Rita Boyd invites you to contact her and welcome your calls, letters and electronic mail. Contacting Rita does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to her until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.

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