Many people have misconceptions about child custody matters in Texas such as mothers always get custody, parents can limit time with children for non-payment of child support and parents do not need custody orders.
When you are handling child custody matters, called conservatorship and possession and access in Texas law, it is important that you do not get taken in by some common misconceptions about child custody.
Myth: mothers always get custody
There was a time when the law presumed that mothers were the best caregivers and courts routinely awarded mothers custody of children. Many courts subscribed to the “tender years,” doctrine. This doctrine stated that children needed to be with their mothers in their “tender years” so if all other factors between the parents are equal the mother should get custody.
However, current Texas law states that the public policy of the state is to make sure that children have frequent contact with both parents and to encourage both parents to share in parenting rights and duties after separating. Courts begin with a presumption of joint managing conservatorship to support these public policies.
The courts make conservatorship and possession and access decisions based on the best interests of the children involved, and state statutes direct courts to assess each parent’s qualifications without regard to gender or marital status. In Texas child custody disputes, fathers should not assume that they have no hope of being awarded custody, and mothers should not assume that they do not need to make a case for why they should get custody.
Myth: I can withhold visitation for child support
You might think that you can limit your child’s other parent’s time with your child if he or she does not pay child support. However, child support payments are not linked to parenting time. If your child’s other parent is in arrears in child support payments, the proper thing to do is to file a Motion for Contempt to compel payment.
Myth: my ex and I don’t need a court order
You might think that since you and your child’s other parent get along well that there is no need to involve lawyers and the court in your parenting schedule. However, things can change easily. You or your child’s other parent may want to move to a different state, one of you may get remarried or other life changes may change the dynamics of your relationship.
Even if you never look at the parenting plan, it is wise to create a detailed agreement that spells out the time that each parent gets with your child as well as a schedule for holidays and school breaks. If you can remain flexible with your child’s other parent, you never need to look at the parenting plan. However, if a dispute about parenting time should arise, there is a way to resolve the matter without having to resort to litigation when you are angry – rather than early on when you and your child’s parent are able to cooperate.
Consulting with a skilled child custody attorney can help you wade through the myths surrounding child custody in Texas and help you establish a parenting plan that protects your child’s best interests. If you have other questions about child custody, speak with an experienced Texas child custody lawyer who can advise you about your options.
Keywords: child custody; parenting time; child support