Joint Custody Work Explained

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Joint Custody Work Explained

Child custody is one of the most important aspects of many divorce settlements – and one of the most stressful, too. Fortunately, by learning the basics of joint custody, you can protect both your children and your parental rights.

What is Joint Custody?

Joint custody is an arrangement where both parents share the responsibility and decision-making authority for their child’s upbringing. This can include:

  • Physical custody or possession and access, which describes each parent’s right to have the child reside with them and spend time with them, respectively; and 
  • Legal custody or conservatorship, which grants both parents the right to make important decisions regarding the child’s education, healthcare, and overall well-being.

It’s important to note that joint custody does not necessarily mean an equal 50/50 split of time between the parents. The specific terms of the arrangement can be tailored to the unique needs and circumstances of the family, with the ultimate goal of ensuring the child’s best interests are always the top priority.

How Does Joint Custody Work?

In a joint custody arrangement, the parents typically create a parenting plan that outlines the specific details of the custody agreement. This plan may include the child’s living schedule, holiday and vacation schedules, and the decision-making process for important matters.

Joint custody agreements vary from one to another due to the need to cater to each family’s specific needs and circumstances. However, several common arrangements consistently arise within this framework:

  • Week-on, week-off schedule: The child spends one week with one parent and the following week with the other parent.
  • 2-2-3 schedule: The child spends two days with one parent, two days with the other parent, and then three days with the first parent.
  • Alternating weekends: The child lives with one parent during the week and spends alternating weekends with the other parent.

Regardless of the specific arrangement, joint custody aims to ensure that both parents maintain an active and meaningful role in their child’s life, fostering a sense of stability and security for the child.

It’s important to understand that the success of a joint custody arrangement depends heavily on the willingness and ability of both parents to cooperate and communicate effectively. Parents who can put aside their differences and focus on the child’s needs are more likely to establish a successful joint custody agreement.

Establishing Joint Custody

Establishing joint custody typically begins with either parent filing a petition for custody as part of a divorce proceeding or as a separate action if the parents were never married. Texas law presumes that joint managing conservatorship is in the best interest of the child, meaning that both parents will share in the decision-making responsibilities regarding the child’s upbringing, including decisions about education, medical care, and moral and religious training.

However, this does not necessarily mean that physical custody is split equally. The court will consider various factors, such as the parents’ ability to cooperate, the physical, psychological, and emotional needs of the child, and any history of family violence or substance abuse. The ultimate goal is to arrive at a custody arrangement that best supports the child’s health, safety, and welfare.

How to Get Joint Custody Without Going to Court

Joint Custody Work ExplainedIn some cases, parents may be able to reach a joint custody agreement outside of the court system through mediation or negotiation. This collaborative approach can often lead to a more amicable and mutually beneficial arrangement, as both parties can voice their concerns and work together to find a solution.

During the mediation process, a neutral third-party mediator will guide the parents through discussions, helping them to identify common goals and find compromises. This can be a more cost-effective and less adversarial alternative to traditional court proceedings.

The mediation process allows parents to have a more active role in decision-making, which can lead to a greater sense of buy-in and investment in the final agreement. By working together to create a customized custody plan, parents are more likely to be committed to upholding the terms of the arrangement, reducing the risk of future conflicts or legal battles.

If the parents can reach an agreement through mediation, they can present the proposed joint custody plan to the court for approval. This can streamline the process and minimize the need for lengthy court battles, which can be emotionally and financially draining for all involved.

Contact BB Law Group PLLC

If you are looking to establish a joint custody arrangement or have questions about your existing custody agreement, we encourage you to call BB Law Group PLLC at (832) 534-2589 to schedule a confidential evaluation. Our team is here to provide the personalized support and legal experience you need during this challenging time.