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What type of child custody agreement might I expect?

If you're getting a divorce and you have children to consider, but you must work a lot and still must provide for your family, that isn't going to change, as you know that you still want to take an active role in the lives of your children. This may leave you wondering what type of child custody agreement you might expect in a final order.

Texas, like other states, offers various types of custody plans. What you end up with will either be up to you and your soon-to-be ex to agree upon or the court to impose upon you both. It all depends on how you choose to settle the matter.

Types of custody

In Texas, child custody is called conservatorship. There are only three types available:

  • Sole Managing Conservatorship;
  • Joint Managing Conservatorship; and
  • Possessory Conservatorship.

With a sole conservatorship, one parent receives primary physical custody -- and usually full legal rights (though that is negotiable), depending on the reason for the sole conservatorship. With joint custody, one parent typically still receives primary physical custody but shares other legal rights. Legal rights refer to who gets to make important decisions for the affected children -- such as religious upbringing, schooling and medical decisions, among various others. Possessory conservatorship is the form of conservatorship typically awarded to the other parent when one parent is awarded Sole Managing conservatorship. A possessory conservator has certain rights during his or her periods of possession, and may have other restrictions on rights and periods of possession, which periods of possession may be less generous than periods awarded to a joing managing conservator.

My situation

So, if you work a lot, that does not mean that custody will automatically go to the other parent. If you can work out an agreement through private negotiations or mediation, and that agreement receives court approval, you may get more of a say in how much time you get with your children than if the Court makes the decisions for you in the absence of an agreement.

If you cannot come to agreeable terms, your spouse is not willing to budge, and wants a sole conservatorship, you may have to fight the issue out in court. You can tell a judge what type of custody agreement you want and why you feel it would be beneficial to your children. The court will then look at a number of factors -- such as work schedules, living arrangements, parent/child relationships, and the history of each parent's relative involvement in parenting among others -- and make a final decision.

All about the kids

At the end of the day, a child custody agreement is really supposed to be all about the kids, not the parents. It needs to put the children in a situation that will help them grow and develop emotionally, not cause harm. If you strongly believe that your children having equal access to you and your soon-to-be ex is what will best serve them, it is certainly something to consider fighting for in Court, as 50/50 access as a national trend is steadily increasing in becoming the presumptive default custody award in the United States, although that is presently NOT the statutory presumption in the State of Texas.  An experienced Board-certified family law expert attorney should be able to review your legal options in the event custody becomes an issue in your case.

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