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Child Custody
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The Basics of Texas Child Custody Law

Child custody law in Texas shares many features in common with laws in other states, but differs with them in other areas. In Texas, like many states around the country, the courts assume that it's in the best interests of the child to award custody of a child to both parents. In Texas, this arrangement is known as joint managing conservatorship.

Joint managing conservatorship does not mean each parent will share access to the children equally. Nor does it mean child support wont be awarded to one parent. Instead it means that the parents will share a portion of parental rights and duties. These rights and duties may be similar to those the parents had while married, but after the divorce, they may be allocated differently.

If there is any history of abuse or neglect by one parent, that could affect the custody judgment. Abuse or neglect may result in the other parents being awarded sole custody.

Child Custody Parenting Plans in Texas

In Texas, the final custody agreement is called a parenting plan. Texas law allows for the appointment of "an impartial third party" to assist parents in developing their parenting plan. If a case is particularly contentious, the court can appoint this parenting coordinator over the objections of one or both parents. This coordinator, however, has no power to impose an agreement on the parties and cannot testify in court.

Once a parenting plan is signed by the judge and filed with the court clerk, both parents are bound by it. If a parent is denied court-ordered access to a child, he or she may bring the issue back before the court. The judge may decide to modify the visitation order and order makeup visitation for the time missed.

Texas Child Support

In Texas, child support is based on the paying parent's net income and other resources, as follows:

  • 20% of net resources for one child
  • 25% of net resources for two children
  • 30% of net resources for three children
  • 35% of net resources for four children
  • 40% of net resources for five children

A Texas child support order can be modified if there has been a change in circumstances, such as a big increase or decrease in the paying parent's income or the childs reaching the legal age of majority.

Texas Child Custody Forms

Some of the more common Texas child custody forms that parents will need to complete include:

  • Texas Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity
  • Child Support Calculator
  • Federally Mandated Income Withholding for Support
  • If youre divorcing and have children or have questions about an existing parenting plan, talk to a qualified attorney in your area.