Whether you are just beginning a custody battle or are in the middle, knowing how the court will determine custody can help you through the process.
Many people going into court hoping for full custody or worried about losing custody completely.
Now there’s no such thing as full custody. That’s the term that’s always used. What it is, is conservatorship, and generally, what determines is the right to designate primary or to be the sole managing conservator.
However, in most cases, it will be joint managing conservatorship. The court wants the child to have both parents in their life. Only if there is a danger to the child does the court consider sole custody.
The lawyers here at Turner Monahan can explain to potential clients what the pros and cons are and whether or not we believe that there’s a good case one way or the other.
Learn from Tyler Monahan now what the court considers when determining child custody. He will also explain the difference between the types of custody scheduled.
Q: What does the court consider when determining child custody?
Tyler Monahan: There are many factors that the court uses to determine how they’re going to look at child conservatorship.
A lot of people get mixed up with I want full custody or I want custody of my child, it’s really conservatorship, possession and access, and child support.
The conservatorship portion is always determined upon whether or not there’s some sort of danger to a child if there’s a danger to a child, then the judge can make a decision that one parent or the other parent is going to be the sole managing conservator.
But in most cases, parents are good people, and they’re good to their children. So there will be a joint managing conservator. As the family code states, whether it’s right or wrong, there’s a primary parent and then there is a non-custodial parent, where the child goes and visits. In those cases, you have child support that’s paid.
The judge will take into consideration many factors on what the possession and access schedule is. Just because there’s a primary parent doesn’t mean we’re not going to 50/50 possession access, week on week off, or some other type of possession and access schedule.
Many times the court is only able to go within the confines of the family code to appoint a primary parent and then have the non-custodial parent have a standard or expanded standard possession schedule.
Difference Between Standard & Expanded Standard Possession Schedule
People ask all the time, what is a standard or expanded standard possession schedule. Under the family code for someone during the school year that has a standard possession order, they’re going to pick up their child on first, third, and fifth Fridays of the month at 6pm and they’re going to return the child at 6pm on that immediately following Sunday. They get every Thursday during the school year from 6pm to 8pm. They also get 30 days in the summer to get every other spring break. They’ll also get every other Thanksgiving and every other Christmas.
Sometimes the court will allow for a parent who’s a non-custodial parent to expand that standard. The only thing that changes is during the school year they get to pick up their child on Thursdays at school and return their child Friday morning. And then on the first third, fifth weekends, they get to pick up their child at school on Friday and they’ll return their child generally on Monday morning unless the judge limited back to 6pm on that Sunday.
There is no set conservatorship method or conservative model that the judges go by. It’s all dictated by the facts that are presented to the court and they vary. As I said, it’s like a fingerprint or thumbprint.
Joint manager conservatorship is what most cases fall under where their child is not in any type of danger. But if there are facts presented, and there is a necessity for a sole managing conservatorship, the sole managing conservator will have the right to make medical, dental and surgical procedures that are invasive in nature, they make psychological and psychiatric decisions along with education decisions for the child and the other parent doesn’t have that right. Because there have been facts presented whether it’s maybe the parent has had a drug issue or criminal history in the past or endangered children in the past, the judge can make a decision on conservatorship or sole managing.
But if it’s not sole managing then parents will generally share those rights and duties jointly. One will generally have a trump card if you will, after console they get to make their decision.
For the most part, the courts are attempting to put both parents on an even playing field so everybody knows what’s going on with the child.
That’s the most important thing is no parent wants to be left out of their child’s life or decisions that are made.