Texas courts consider the welfare of the children to be of paramount concern when deciding custody matters. But what happens when both parents are fit and competent to raise the child? Does the mother have the advantage in these decisions? Does the party that is the primary breadwinner? Learn more about what factors into 50/50 custody in Texas below.
3 Types of Conservatorships in Texas
In order to discuss these matters, we must first clear up confusion on what constitutes custody. Custody in Texas can be awarded to one or both parents. In Texas, this is called “conservatorship”. Texas holds that there are three different types of conservators. Those are:
- Joint managing conservators,
- Sole conservators, and
Please note that conservatorship has nothing to do with visitation. It regards legal rights that parents have when rendering decisions for their children.
Joint Managing Conservatorship
It is generally assumed by the Texas courts that it’s in the best interest of the children that both parents should have decision-making power over the children. This is regardless of which parent the children live with. Possession orders govern visitation schedules. This is a different matter entirely but (confusingly) is called physical custody.
Possessory Conservatorship and Sole Conservatorship
When one parent is granted sole conservatorship over a child, the other parent, barring extraordinary circumstances, will be granted possessory conservatorship. Possessory conservatorship grants a parent access to the children and the right to a visitation schedule, but the sole conservator has the final say over such issues as education, health care decisions, and other key decisions that impact the child’s future.
Are Dads at a Disadvantage When Trying to Win 50/50 Custody in Texas?
In the past, the courts always considered it to be in the best interest of the children to grant the mother primary custody or sole conservatorship. This was done under the belief that mom’s job was to raise the children while dad was the breadwinner. Today, those barriers have been broken down to the extent that dads are no longer at a disadvantaged position when arguing that they should be granted joint managing conservatorship. Additionally, dads can split physical (or residential) custody times with moms when it makes sense to do so.
Texas Courts Still Favor Mothers in Certain Circumstances
One of the biggest factors in determining conservatorship of a child will be the age of the child. The courts still operate under the default assumption that very young children need their mother more than their father. While conservatorship arrangements can always be revisited down the road, children who are three years of age or less have moms who are much more likely to be awarded sole conservatorship.
Texas Courts Favor Fathers More Than They Did in Years Past
Modern fathers are much more active in child rearing than (perhaps) they were in years past. With homes that have two working parents, mothers who would otherwise be homemakers or housewives have more responsibilities on their plate. So the responsibility of childrearing has been distributed more evenly between moms and dads.
This is especially true when fathers go out of their way to accommodate their children. For instance, it isn’t unheard of for fathers to move within the same school district as a mother who has primary residential custody of the children in order to see them more often. With more and more of our workforce having telecommuting jobs, fathers have more opportunity than ever to accommodate the childrearing needs of their children.
The Texas courts will take this into account when rendering a decision on joint managing conservatorship.
Problems for Parents Who Can’t Get Along
One major impediment to being awarded joint managing conservatorship is when two parents cannot come to decisions together or are constantly trying to undermine one another’s decisions. For instance, legal conservatorship entitles a parent to make decisions concerning a child’s:
- Religious practice,
- Educational needs, and
- Medical or psychiatric treatment.
When two parents can’t come to a mutual consensus regarding these important issues, the court will be forced to render a decision based on the child’s best interests.
Learn More About 50/50 Custody in Texas
The Alsandor Law Firm represents both fathers and mothers when it comes to gaining access to and making decisions for their children. We have helped a number of fathers spend more time with their children and secured them a more active role in their lives. Contact us to speak to an experienced Houston TX child custody attorney today.