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When Do Texas Courts Award Sole Custody?

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Dallas, TX custody lawyerMany divorced parents can attest that one of the most emotional parts of a divorce is often what type of child custody order the court issues. Over the past few decades, child custody has evolved to include a much greater emphasis on shared parenting instead of sole custody with limited visitation for the other non-custodial parent. While the courts do recognize that it is usually in the best interest of the child for both parents to be actively involved in raising that child, there are situations where the court will instead award sole custody to one parent.

Child Custody in Texas

Under Texas family law, child custody is referred to as “conservatorship.” One type of conservator is joint managing conservator. This is when both parents share significant decisions about the child, including healthcare, education, and religion. The court will also include a possession order which states how much parenting time each parent will have with the child.

Another type of conservator is sole managing conservator. This is when the court  grants one parent the primary rights and responsibilities for making those significant decisions concerning the child's upbringing. Although the non-custodial parent may have input in these decisions, the custodial parent has the final say. In this type of custody situation, the non-custodial parent is referred to as a possessory conservator.


dallas child custody lawyerCo-parenting can be a challenging undertaking, especially before both adults and their children have settled into an established rhythm. As a result, it can be very helpful for divorcing spouses who share minor children to utilize different forms of technology when attempting to honor their obligations to each other and their children. The use of technology designed specifically with co-parents in mind may even be cited as an expectation in a divorcing couple’s parenting agreement.

Technology that Can Strengthen Bonds and Minimize Tension 

There are two primary forms of technology that can potentially assist co-parents in managing their family’s needs more effectively.

First, some apps can help parents to remain bonded and invested in their children’s lives when their children are residing with their co-parent. Apps that can help bring parents and kids together across the miles include:


TX divorce lawyerWhether you are already divorced or only separated, the summer holidays can present a new set of challenges to newly-single parents managing visitation schedules for the first time. Besides managing to care for your children by yourself, you need to cooperate with your ex about vacation schedules, summer activities, and transitioning the children between homes. This can all add up to a lot of stress. Here are three tips to help you get through the summer holidays after your Texas divorce.

Plan Ahead

Ideally, each parent will get a good chunk of uninterrupted vacation time with a child. Although there is no school, the summer months tend to be full of scheduled activities that can get in the way of planning a vacation last minute. To prevent confusion and conflict, plan well ahead and try to communicate calmly and clearly with your ex. Avoid making firm reservations and paying for expensive flights and hotels until you can make sure your plans do not conflict with other activities.

Take Important Dates Into Consideration

If your co-parent has a birthday or enjoys spending Mother’s Day with her children, avoid making plans that coincide with those days. Likewise, be sensitive to important dates your children may want to be present for. Spending time with friends is a major part of your kids’ lives, especially when they are teenagers. They may be very upset to miss birthdays, school theme park days, and other social activities. Talk to them and see whether they have any important activities coming up before you make plans.


Right of First Refusal

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The most influential people in most children's lives are undoubtedly their parents. Children look up to their parents for everything and rely on them to give them the guidance they need to develop into emotionally stable and successful adults. For this reason, the family courts always strive to give equal amount of parenting time to divorced parents. However, while the concept of shared parenting may seem simple in practice, the truth is that it presents a lot of complications that non-divorced couples do not typically have to think about. Certain clauses in the shared parenting agreement can help negate some of those issues or, at the very least, advise them on how to handle them. One of those clauses is the Right of First Refusal clause.

What is Right of First Refusal?

Right of First Refusal is one of many clauses that ensures that each parent gets as much parenting time as possible. In terms of custody, Right of First Refusal basically means that one parent must offer the other parent the opportunity to look after the child in lieu of a babysitter or other family member. This clause applies to both last minute and planned events. For instance, if one parent plans a camping trip with his buddies three months in advance, he must first offer the other parent that time with the child, even if it is not her week or weekend. The same goes for a night out planned a day in advance; if the mom wants a last minute a girls' night out, she must contact the father to see if he can watch the child while she is out with her friends.


Benefits of Co-Parenting

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Many parents, after a divorce, find it difficult to speak to their former spouse, much less maintain a civil and ongoing relationship for the sake of their shared children. However, if you want your children to be well-rounded and emotionally stable individuals post divorce, that is exactly what you need to do. Co-parenting is not just a term used to describe the act of sharing parenting responsibilities with your former spouse post-divorce; it is a term used to describe the act of working together to raise your children as seamlessly as possible despite the fact that you are now living in two separate households. At Clark Law Group, our Dallas child custody lawyers strongly encourage parents to overcome their differences for the sake of their children.

Why Co-Parenting is Better

Once upon a time, the family court system truly believed that a child was better off living solely with his or her mother until the age of 12. This was referred to as the tender years doctrine, and it left many dads without any say in how their children were raised and unable to establish a healthy relationship with them. However, it also dictated that dads were to be financially responsible for the children, despite their lack of parenting time. Obviously, the court system has done away with the tender years doctrine, and now co-parenting is presumed to be in the best interests of the child.Co-parenting is thought to encourage a child's happiness, mental and emotional health, and security by enabling both parents to make important decisions regarding the child, as well as allowing both parents to have equal time with the child. Additionally, co-parenting is believed to provide the child with the following benefits following a divorce:

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