This post is another in my Super Simple FAQs in Texas divorce laws.
How to get custody in Texas?
Custody in Texas is a loose term — the legal term is conservatorship. Conservatorship in Texas refers to the legal and physical relationship of each parent to a child. When parents have never married, the court can allocate the rights and duties regarding the child, as well as physical possession and financial support, between the parents. When parents are married to each other, this is unnecessary according to the law. But, when they get divorced it becomes necessary to have the courts establish these parameters.
Texas Primary residence
In Texas, most parents are called “joint managing conservators”, meaning they have joint legal (but not necessarily physical) custody. They share in the decision-making regarding the child. However, Texas law requires that one of the joint conservators be given the “primary right to establish the child’s residence”. That parents is loosely termed the “primary parent” in Texas. Usually the parents agree to share the right to make other decisions, such as the right to make educational decisions or the right to make medical decisions regarding the child. If the parents show a tendency to disagree about decisions, these rights can be allocated exclusively to one parent.
Texas Possession periods
The physical custody of the child involves splitting up the time the child will spend with each parent. In Texas, this starts with the Texas Standard Possession Schedule, but the parents can agree to do something different. Or, if the Texas standard schedule does not work for a family, the court can craft a different schedule.
Texas Child support
Lastly, custody includes financial support of the child. One parent usually pays child support and provides health insurance for the child. Child support is determined in Texas based on a percentage of the paying parent’s net income up to the first $8550/month of income. The parents will also share the uninsured medical expenses between them.