What Does Joint Custody Mean for Your Child?

As parents move forward with a divorce, they usually have many questions about custody and child support. Before any lasting decisions are made, it’s important to understand the different types of custody (or conservatorship, as it is known in Texas courts). For example, joint custody or conservatorship describes who will make major decisions that impact the children. This can include the children’s primary place of residence and what schools they’ll attend. In this case, both parents will have a say in medical care, religious instruction, extracurricular activities, and other decisions that impact the day-to-day lives of their children.

Conservatorship of children can take one of two forms: possessory and managing. Sole custody, for example, means that one parent becomes the managing conservator and, therefore, makes all important parental decisions regarding the child. Possessory conservatorship allows regular access, sometimes referred to as visitation. But a possessory conservator will not be responsible for making major decisions on the child’s behalf. Joint custody doesn’t have to mean that the child will split time equally with both parents. This will vary depending on the particulars of each unique situation. Divorced couples who share joint custody will each have a say in where the child lives and whether or not a child can be taken out of state.

Joint or sole custody agreements probably won’t change court ordered child support, but every case is different. If you have questions about how joint custody will impact the child support you are paying or receiving, it’s best to discuss that with an experienced family law attorney. The aim of Texas courts is always to make sure that the decisions made by parents reflect the best interests of the child. They also prefer to allow both parents access to the child, except in cases of abuse, addiction, neglect, or some other harmful circumstance. Your lawyer can help the courts understand any factors that might impact your case so that an appropriate decision regarding joint custody or other child custody arrangements can be reached.

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