In the state of Texas, joint custody is a custody arrangement where parents share care and control of their child. Texans who are familiar with joint custody are typically familiar with arrangements where parents share control, care and upbringing responsibilities, but the child has only one primary legal residence. This is actually not “joint custody” per se. It is actually called joint legal custody, one of three categories of joint custody.
Here is a closer look at the joint custody categories and the ideal times to consider joint custody for your child.
Texas breaks joint custody down into the following three categories:
- Joint Legal Custody
- Shared Physical Custody
- Special Joint Custody Agreements
Joint legal custody, as previously described, means parents share care, upbringing and control of the child, but the child still has one primary residence for legal purposes.
Shared physical custody differs in that the child has two residences. Under Texas law, shared physical custody occurs when the child spends at least 35% of their time at the residence of both parents.
Additionally, Texas courts give deference to the agreements of parents, which is why parents are given the authority to create their own agreements. These special joint custody arrangements may incorporate a combination of joint legal custody and shared physical custody. A common example of this is when a child has a primary residence with both parents on a rotating basis rather than a fixed basis under the joint legal custody standard.
When to Consider Joint Custody
Joint custody should be considered when parents respect each other to the point that negotiation is possible. Whether that negotiation is achieved exclusively by the parents or with the help of an attorney and/or mediator, parents with a sincere belief that joint custody is in their child’s best interest should do everything possible to make that happen.
Both parents will need to be stable, parentally fit (no substance abuse issues, for example) and active in a child’s life for joint custody to work out well for the children. So long as parents can talk about and reach joint decisions about their child’s wellbeing effectively, joint custody may be a fine idea that benefits children.
It is also worth noting that fathers rarely receive sole custody, so if fathers want an active role in their child’s outcome, joint custody is typically the best option. 51% of child custody decisions are made based on parents agreeing on their own terms. This dispels much of the myth that the family court often interferes to the detriment of men, particularly when parents are agreeable.
Additional Joint Custody Considerations
Parents are not the only party involved in joint custody paying close attention to a joint custody agreement. The court also looks to a number of factors, the most important of which is whether or not the parents function agreeably together.
Additionally, the court also looks to factors like the following:
- Parental Willingness to Share Custody
- Parental Fitness
- The Financial Status of the Parents
- The Number of Children and Their Respective Ages
- Employment Factors (Distance, Travel, Etc.)
- Proximity Between Both Parental Homes
- The Child’s Preference and Their Parental Relationships
Finally, courts will also look to see that both parents are sincere in their desire to have joint custody. If the court feels a parent is merely agreeing to joint custody to score points to be used toward other divorce negotiations, expect to receive pushback from the court.
Joint custody is, on the whole, a heavily deliberated topic that requires a Texas family lawyer who will help you navigate joint custody while protecting your parental desires. If you and your former partner agree on raising children under one of the categories of joint custody, Bruman Law Group works to make it happen.
For all your Texas divorce and custody questions and concerns, contact Bruman Law Group for a legal consultation. Bruman Law Group is a group of experienced family lawyers with over 27 years of legal experience. From divorce to child custody, Bruman Law Group has the expertise and sensitivity necessary to deliver the positive outcome you and your family deserve.