Shared custody is the most likely outcome when parents with children separate or divorce in Texas. The adults in the family have the option of either negotiating a custody arrangement with one another or asking a family law judge to put together a custody order because they disagree on key details. Judges often prioritize shared custody arrangements because there is an assumption that is in the best interest of the children.
Once there is a custody order in place, Texas law imposes several requirements on parents, including the following.
Uphold the custody order
A custody order is a court order, and parents have an obligation to abide by the terms set by the judge. That means that they will need to regularly exchange custody according to the division of parenting time. Custody arrangements typically include both an overall breakdown of parenting time and arrangements for sharing custody on special occasions, such as holidays and birthdays. Parents usually need to follow the rules outlined in their custody order or make arrangements with one another if the situation occasionally requires deviating from the custody order.
Share pertinent information
Parents in Texas are privy to numerous important details about their children’s lives. From progress reports sent home from the school to information obtained during medical appointments, parents need to share that information with one another. There is an expectation in Texas state statute that the adults in a shared custody arrangement will give one another access to relevant information about the children in the family.
Agree on major decisions
Just as parents share parenting time, they must also share authority over their children. Most custody arrangements require that adults share the power to make decisions about religious, educational and medical matters. They can handle any emergencies that occur during their own parenting time but will need to cooperate on major decisions with long-term implications in most non-emergency situations.
It can be very difficult for those who have just gone through a major shift in their relationship to cooperate for the purpose of co-parenting. Understanding the requirements imposed by Texas family law statutes, and seeking legal guidance whenever necessary, may help people better adjust to shared custody arrangements.