Many people still think that courts prefer to award primary custody of the children to the mother. Although that may have been true decades ago, that is not the reality today. Traditionally, at the time when mothers stayed at home and took care of the children while the man of the house advanced his career, that may have been a natural solution when the couple split up. Now, it may be a myth.
The Family Code has been modified over the years to require that custody be considered by the Judge without regard to gender. The presumption is that the parents are to be appointed joint managing conservators with a set possession (visitation) schedule. The goal is to have both parents active in the children’s lives. That does not mean however that the parents will have equal times of possession.
Joint Managing Conservatorship
Under a joint managing conservatorship, one parent is often given the right to determine the child’s primary residence. Although this used to imply that the parent designating primary residence also chose the school the child will attend, that is not necessarily the case. The court evaluates the evidence presented by the parents and makes a decision that is in the best interest of the children.
Primary Considerations the Court Uses to Determine Conservatorship of the Children
In determining conservatorship of the children, and which parent will provide their primary residence, the court considers all relevant evidence, particularly:
- The age of the children.
- The health of the parents.
- Which parent has provided most of the childcare prior to the separation.
- Which parent can be depended on to provide a stable home for the children.
- Each parent’s willingness to positively co-parent with the other one.
- The wishes of the child. The court must interview children over 12 about this issue and may interview younger children, depending on the situation.
Even though parents are given joint managing conservatorship, that does not mean that they spend equal time with the children. A 50-50 possession schedule is often difficult for the children who must juggle school and extracurricular activities and time with friends between homes. It is not the preference in the law, and it often is difficult to obtain in court.
A possession schedule is established by the court unless the parents can agree on their own possession schedule.
For More Information About Divorce Contact an Experienced Dallas Family Law Attorney.
For more information about child custody, joint conservatorship, and possession schedules, schedule a free initial consultation with a Dallas Family Law Attorney. Contact Paula Lock Smyth Law Offices at 214-420-1800.