Determining Child Custody in Your Divorce

Child custody — including modification proceedings —can be one of the most hotly contested aspects in a family law case. The Law Office of Ellen Schutz has provided dedicated child custody representation for more than 16 years. Our Dallas child custody attorney, Ellen Schutz, has extensive knowledge of divorce law and tailors her representation to clients' unique needs.

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When Parents Disagree On a Parenting Plan

In the event the parents cannot agree on a parenting plan, the court will decide whether to establish a Joint Managing Conservatorship (joint custody) or Sole Managing Conservatorship (sole custody). The decision as to what type of conservatorship will be awarded to whom, as well as the child's primary residence and the visitation program, will be based on what is in the best interest of the child.

Some of the factors a court will consider include:

  • Who has been more involved with the child
  • Parenting skills
  • Resources
  • Who is truly putting the child first

Children ages 12 or older may designate a preference of which parent should be allowed to determine their primary residence. The Court will consider this preference in making a final decision regarding custody.

That said, parents should know that a custody fight will be expensive. It also may harm the child and harm relationships within the family. Because of these issues, parents often reach an agreement concerning custody. When both parties cannot agree, the judge might order psychological evaluations, parenting facilitators, social studies or mediation. These evaluations and orders help to give the judge a clear idea of what is going on.

Joint Managing Conservatorships

Unless otherwise dictated by the circumstances, Texas law presumes that divorcing parents will be awarded Joint Managing Conservatorship of their children. This does not mean that the children will live half of the time with each parent. In fact, joint legal custody is not about how much time the parents spend with their children, but instead, addresses the parents' post-divorce rights, powers, duties and responsibilities to their children.

In the typical Joint Managing Conservatorship, both parents share most of these rights, powers, duties and responsibilities, although some rights belong to a parent only when he or she has the child (for example, disciplining the child). There is usually one parent given the exclusive right to receive child support and to determine the primary residence of the child.

In some cases, one of the parents is awarded Sole Managing Conservatorship. This means that the designated parent has the majority of the legal rights pertaining to the child and makes the majority of the important parenting decisions (such as where the child will physically reside).

Regardless of whether the court establishes a Joint Managing Conservatorship or Sole Managing Conservatorship, in the typical divorce, the child will reside with one parent while the other parent will have visitation rights. If the parents cannot agree on a visitation program, the court will make the decision.

Child Support

Child support is based on a formula that considers several factors in determining appropriate child support amounts. The state's child support schedule outlines the payment amounts based on:

  • The number of children in the family
  • How many kids the paying spouse has to support
  • What the obligee (the party paying the child support) earns

Our lawyer, Ellen Schutz, represents individuals pursuing child support and those obligated to pay support. She evaluates every issue to ensure you are not facing undue obligations and that you are receiving proper support. Her guidance addresses which parent pays for specific obligations, such as health care and schooling.

The firm provides comprehensive modification of prior orders guidance to help individuals change their custody and child support situations.

Call Today For a Phone Consultation

Questions about parenting plans and child custody? The firm provides phone consultations at 214-340-8515, or you can send an e-mail. Se habla español. The firm is centrally located between Denton and Dallas counties.