For the Kids: Child Custody in Divorce

When it comes to divorce, a lot of things are stressful, usually because the divorcing spouses cannot agree on it. But if there’s one point of contention that everyone worries about, possibly more than any other, it’s child custody. In most cases, both parents want to maintain primary custody of their child, but the best way to ensure that it happens for you is if you know the ins and outs of child custody in divorce cases.

First and foremost, it is not as if custody of a child has to go to one parent or the other. Joint custody is legal under Texas law, and a very popular option among divorcing parents. This joint process allows both parents to have an active role in their child’s life, but it is important to note that certain circumstances can change the case dramatically. Evidence of child abuse, neglect, drug abuse, or other conditions seen as deteriorating the child’s physical and mental health are almost certain to shift favor away from the guilty spouse. It’s important to keep this in mind if you know your spouse is guilty of such actions, especially if you do not want your child to remain under such influence.

But, providing that neither spouse is guilty of such things, joint custody is a great way to go. It allows both parents to have equal weight in making decisions regarding their child’s growth and care, for equal involvement in their child’s life. Of course, under joint custody, both parents have several responsibilities regarding the growth of their child physically, mentally, and spiritually. The state of Texas firmly believes that both parents had some weight on these matters before the divorce, so under Texas law the state courts are not allowed to consider “the qualifications of the respective parents with regard to the sex of the parent” when it comes to custody. That at least should help you rest a little easier.

Unfortunately, joint custody does not mean each parent will have equal physical access to the child, but they will share equal duties and responsibilities regarding their growth. These rights and duties are quite varied, and you’d do well to be aware of them all.

During your periods of possession of the child, you have a great number of rights. These include the right to direct their moral and religious training, to consent to medical treatment, to access medical, dental, educational, or psychological records, the right to discuss your child’s medical matters with a medical professional, to consult with school officials regarding educational activities, to attend said activities, the right to be notified in the case of an emergency, and the right to manage the estate of the child to the extent the estate has been created by the parent or the parent’s family.

Of course, there are some duties you are responsible for as well. Care, control, protection, and reasonable discipline of the child are all required of you when you have joint custody, as is the duty to support the child with adequate food, shelter, and medical and dental care not involving invasive procedures.

Of course, these are general, and can be more confusing in reality than they sound right here. Having an experienced attorney who is familiar with child custody is extremely important when discussing divorce, to ensure that you know everything required of you, as well as all of the rights you have. It’s also wise to remember that, if you don’t live in Texas, your state may have different rules and regulations, and you should be aware of them all before entering divorce proceedings.