Most parents want to spend time with their children regardless of what happens in the relationship between the parents.
Parents wish to be involved in their children’s daily lives, but is that possible? You may have heard that it is impossible to have 50/50 custody in Texas or that fathers have no chance of getting equal custody of their kids. This is not true.
Texas law explicitly states that courts cannot discriminate based on sex when making a custody decision.
However, getting 50/50 custody in Texas is not easy. While obtaining a 50/50 split custody in Texas is possible, it is usually going to be by agreement, rather than in a trial. You should be aware of certain factors if you want a genuinely equal split of parenting time with your kids.
Our Texas child custody attorneys will explain what you should know.
Joint Conservatorship v. Equal Physical Possession
First, it’s essential to clarify whether you seek equal physical custody or an equal right to make decisions about your kids. Texas law distinguishes between the physical possession of a child and the right to make decisions about the child’s health, education, and welfare.
Under Texas law, there is a presumption that appointing both parents as joint managing conservators is in the children’s best interests. Thus, both parents have the right to make decisions about their children. You can overcome this presumption if one parent has a history of abuse, violence, or substance abuse.
Joint conservatorship does not mean that both parents have the right to equal possession of the child. Physical custody is only a part of conservatorship, and that might be either a standard possession order or a 50-50 arrangement.
If you want to have the right to play an equal role in making decisions about your child’s life, that is typical under joint managing conservatorship.
Texas Standard Possession Order
You may wonder, Why would the court not allow 50/50 custody in Texas? Texas law does not currently support the idea that equal possession of the children by both parents is in the children’s best interest.
Under Texas law, there is a presumption that a standard possession order is in the child’s best interests. Under a standard possession order, one parent’s residence is designated as the child’s residence. The other parent, by default, spends less time with the child.
The legal arrangement is generally that the non-custodial parent will have possession of the child on the first, third, and fifth weekends and every Thursday night. Vacations, holidays, and birthdays alternate between the parents.
An expanded standard possession order typically makes Thursdays overnight and provides for more time during the weekend visitation times.
For the most part, courts will implement some variation of the standard possession order unless there is compelling evidence that another custody arrangement is in the best interest of the child.
50/50 Custody in Texas
Although Texas law presumes that the standard possession order is in the children’s best interest, you can overcome this presumption. If you and your ex are on good terms, you may be able to create a 50/50 custody split in an agreed-upon parenting plan.
Keep in mind that a court must approve even the parenting plan, but if parents are in agreement, judges often honor that agreement.
If you cannot agree to a plan, fighting for 50/50 custody in Texas is possible. You will need to gather evidence showing that you have participated in your children’s daily caretaking and activities.
This includes feeding and changing the kids, participating in their educational activities, and picking them up from school. If you have not been participating in regular caretaking activities, it will be much more challenging to prove to a court that you should get 50/50 custody.
If you live far from the children, a court will likely find that an equal custody arrangement is not in the children’s best interests. Consistency in a child’s life is critical. This includes the child remaining in the same school and being able to participate in the same developmental activities regardless of which parent has possession.
Your child’s age is also a factor in a physical custody determination. The chances of a father getting 50/50 custody in Texas are far less if the child is under three years of age. This is especially true if the child is still breastfeeding.
Don’t let the potentially difficult fight deter you from pursuing 50/50 custody in Texas. Instead, contact an experienced family law attorney who has represented other parents fighting for an equal custody split. A family law attorney will be able to help you gather information and take action to build your case for equal custody.
How Does 50/50 Custody Work in Texas?
Parents can work out a variety of different schedules for equal custody, depending on their circumstances.
One of the most common schedules is where each parent has the children for alternating weeks. They either do the exchange on Friday evenings or mid-week, and they evenly split and sometimes rotate holidays and vacations. This is often the most manageable plan.
An experienced child custody attorney will be able to help you figure out the best plan for you and your children.
Contact Our Experienced Texas Family Law Attorneys
If you want 50/50 custody of your children but think it is impossible, do not jump to conclusions before speaking with a professional. You need an experienced advocate to help you fight for your right to be with your children.
The skilled Texas custody attorneys at The Larson Law Office have fought for parents like you in their quest for equal custody of their children.