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Does Texas Make the Grade in Shared Custody Laws?

Posted on in Child Custody

Texas divorce attorney, Texas complex litigation attorney, high-asset divorce, One of the most difficult decisions, and the most important, that needs to be made during a complex divorce is how will child custody be divided. There are several different options to that question – including sole or shared custody - but the final outcome is decided and approved by the court.

At one time, it was pretty much the standard in child custody cases that the mother would receive sole physical custody and the father would have a set visitation schedule. Typically, that visitation schedule was every other weekend and one night during the week. However, as the norms of society have changed, with fathers taking a more active role in parenting responsibilities, it has become more common for courts to award joint - or shared - custody to both parents.

Multiple studies have concluded that in most circumstances, it is better for children both emotionally and physically to have both parents taking an active role in raising them. According to research documented by the American Psychological Association (APA), children whose parents have joint custody have higher self-esteem, do better in school and socially, have less emotional issues, less behavior issues and get along better with siblings and other family members than children who come from sole custody families.

Despite all the documented research about how much healthier shared custody is for children, many child custody laws do not reflect these findings. In a recent "report card" issued by the National Parents Organization (NPO), almost half of the states in this country (23) received a D in how well their family courts do in promoting shared parenting.  Eighteen states received a C grade, eight received a grade of B, and not one state received a grade of A. Two states, New York and Rhode Island, received a grade of F.

The organization gave Texas a grade of C when it came to how well child custody laws promote shared parenting. The statute that governs child custody in this state can be found under the Texas Family Code Sec. 153.001. The law does provide for a "presumption of joint custody." The law does get good marks from the NPO for its encouragement of "parents to share in the rights and duties of raising their child after the parents have separated or dissolved their marriage."

However, there is no statutory preference for shared physical custody in either temporary custody orders courts issue or final custody orders. In fact, there is nothing in Texas custody law that even mentions the option of shared custody when issuing temporary orders. And there is no requirement written in the statute requiring judges to consider shared parenting plans.

If you are considering a divorce and anticipate a difficult and complex child custody battle, contact an aggressive Cedar Park complex litigation attorney to find out what legal options may be in your best interest.

The Law Offices of William D. Powers

8911 N. Capital of Texas Highway, Building 2, Suite 2105, Austin, TX 78759