A parenting plan in Texas is also known as a custody agreement in other states. These parenting plans directly address how issues regarding your kids, such as conservatorships, child support, and possession will be handled after the conclusion of your divorce or child custody case. Sometimes people can lose sight of the fact that their case will be temporary. The other side of that coin is that you and your family will need to learn how to live with one another and raise children as a unit once the case is done and over with. For this reason, the judge needs to approve a parenting plan for you that reflects the needs of your family specifically that of your child. Otherwise, you will be left in a position where you need to come back to court periodically for modifications or even enforcement actions. Everyone wants to avoid this so getting a parenting plan that works well for your family the first time is of extreme importance.
A parenting plan only has legal importance when that plan becomes p part of a court order. What’s the order is approved by a judge and contained in the court documentation. Then it is legally enforceable. In that case, we can see that both you and your Co-parent can hold one another accountable for your actions and this will hopefully lead to a better relationship between the two of you but hopefully more continuity for your child and a better overall environment for him or her. There are certain factors in play when it comes to creating A favorable environment for your child. With that said, that examines what you can do 2 improve your chances that having a parenting plan that works well for all parties involved.
The first step in this process to arrive at a parenting plan that works well for you and your family is to prepare one for mediation. Going to mediation without a proposed parenting plan is a huge mistake. You should spend your time in mediation going over your proposed parenting plans and negotiating on each of them. While your plan may not work perfectly for your family you and your Co-parent could take the better parts of both of your plans and utilize them. This could be extremely beneficial and offer each of you an opportunity to have some say-so into the raising of your children as a team. The alternative is to have a family court judge create your parenting plan which may not benefit either of you or your child.
If you and your Co-parent negotiate a parenting plan without a mediator involved then it is likely that that the judge will review your proposed plan very closely. Even if you created your parenting plan with your co-parent outside of mediation it would be wise to attend a short mediation session for no other reason than to allow the mediator to submit your parenting plan into a mediated settlement agreement. This will allow for the judge 2 give their approval more readily and Pass you through to the next stage of your case quicker and easier.
The reason for this is that judges are more apt to trust something that comes out of mediation given the high degree of confidence judges have in mediation to solve problems on behalf of families. It is not as if the mediator will do the work for you but the mediator will offer an environment that is more conducive to compromise and teamwork in a courtroom. The agreement you came up with may not be significantly different than what you would have outside of mediation but simply going to mediation makes the judge more likely to approve what you have come up with and land a less scrutinizing eye towards the agreement itself. So, if you are asked by your Co-parent to attend mediation you should not decline because you feel like it is a trap or is not necessary. Rather, you can Rest assured that mediation is not a trap but rather an opportunity to come up with an enforceable agreement with your Co-parent and two shorten the length of your case.
What information is required to be in a Texas parenting plan? First and foremost, your child’s parenting plan must specify the conservatorships breakdown between you and your Co-parent. For instance, the parrot who designates the primary residence of your child add does the majority of the parenting during the school week is known as the primary conservator. This is the highly sought-after designation in child custody and divorce cases. The reason for this is because the primary conservator typically holds most of the cards when it comes to making decisions on behalf of the child. Additionally, it does not hurt that the primary conservator also has the right to receive child support payments on behalf of the child.
The other conservator of your child is known as the possessory conservator. The possessory Conservatory can have your child but not on a primary basis. If this is the role that you envisioned for yourself then that is something that you can negotiate for. However, otherwise, you would be attempting to position yourself to become a primary conservator. Something to bear in mind is that unless you have played this role in your child’s life to this point it is unlikely that a judge what name you as primary conservator in a trial.
Another element that must be included in a parenting plan is how you and your Co-parent will share or divide decision-making rights and responsibilities for your child. Parents R granted exclusive decision-making capabilities in certain regards. Other times, You may be granted independent decision-making rights. Finally, you and your Co-parent may share decision-making capabilities regarding certain activities of your children.
When a parent has exclusive decision-making capabilities he or she would be able to make decisions regardless of the position of your Co-parent. For example, if you have exclusive decision-making capabilities regarding your child’s education then you would be able to make those decisions regarding your child’s schooling without consulting first with your Co-parent. Harding what class is your child should take, whether or not he or she is a need of counseling, the school your child should attend, and any other considerations are all included in educational choices.
Next, you may also be able to make independent decisions for your child regarding various areas of their life. Consider for a moment the opportunity to independently make decisions regarding noninvasive medical care. This would mean that you could approve your child going to the doctor to have a cleaning or to have any other kind of basic medical treatment performed. That will be something that you may be able to do on your own with consulting without consulting your Co-parent. However, bear in mind that the same will be true for your Co-parent. He or she would also have the ability to independently make decisions regarding these types of non-invasive medical procedures.
Finally, many of the rights and duties that you would have been shared with your Co-parent. This means that you would not be able to make decisions regarding some subjects without first consulting your Co-parent. These subjects would include invasive medical procedures, educational-related topics, and things of this nature. every family determines if she’s like this differently. However, many families want more significant decisions to be made as a team while more minor decisions can be made dependently.
On the other hand, exclusive decision-making is typically designated for situations where a parent has a history of making bad decisions or if abuse or neglect is a relevant factor. We can see that if your Co-parent has a problem with alcoholism, that he or she may not be able to be trusted to make decisions for your child regarding their health or well-being. For this reason, your current parenting plan may not give more her ability to make decisions exclusively. However, with good behavior here she may be able to regain that right.
Where will your child live primarily?
This is probably the most debated topic within child custody and parenting plans in Texas. For the vast majority of families going through child custody or divorce cases, one parent will be given the right to determine the primary residence of the children. This parent more almost certainly chooses themselves and therefore he or she will be able to choose how often and where their child lives. This is an important designation and one that frequently can lead to the case is going to trial. There is no in-between when it comes to this right. Either you can determine the primary residence of your children or you do not.
Another factor to consider is that The parent who can designate the primary residence of your children will also be able to receive child support. This is important for just about every family who has to come up with a parenting plan. Child support is intended to support your children and simply being able to receive child support is a huge benefit. As I mentioned a moment ago, this is frequently a topic that causes families to go to trial. Well, it is not the worst thing in the world to see your divorce case or child custody case go to trial it is something that would all things being equal be good to avoid.
How are medical costs going to be divided?
One of the most important factors that go into a parenting plan is how medical costs are divided between parents. We have already discussed how child support is typically paid from the noncustodial parent to the custodial parent. Those sorts of payments are related to medical treatment in that you and your parent must be able to agree on a way for you to divide up costs for medical treatment between you and your Co-parent. The way that you choose to divide these costs will frequently depend upon the availability of health insurance. Let’s go over some of the ways that you all could choose to divide medical costs that are not covered by insurance.
First, the traditional way to cover your child’s medical expenses is to have private health insurance period private health insurance can be obtained through your employer or that of your Co-parent. Or, either of you may choose to go out into the marketplace and purchase a private plan on your own. If you are the parent who pays child support you will be responsible for covering health insurance costs as well. If your Co-parent pays for health insurance then your responsibility will be to reimburse him or her for those health insurance costs.
Next, your child could be on Medicaid. There are circumstances in which a single parent Health insurance is covered through Medicaid for their child. If this is the case for your child then he will likely have to reimburse the state of Texas for those Medicaid costs. Whatever the situation for your child is you need to ensure that he or she has health insurance costs covered. Before a judge allows your child custody or divorce case to end and a parenting order to be entered you will need to have something in your court order is that states the degree to which Health insurance will be covered.
But you also need to have included in a parenting plan is who will pay for uninsured medical costs. Health insurance does not cover all costs associated with medical treatment all the period as a result, you and your Co-parent need to determine how uninsured medical costs will be split. Frequently, parents in your position will split uninsured medical costs right down the middle period or, you could choose to assign a percentage to each parent based upon their income. Whatever method you choose make sure the language is clear and specific within the parenting plan.
What else is frequently included in Texas parenting plans?
In a standard possession order, some of the following pieces of information are covered. If you are unable to take possession of your child as previously agreed upon that you must notify your Co-parent of this. This is especially true if you have a right of first refusal clause within your parenting plan. A right of first refusal allows the other parent at that point to decide whether or not he or she can care for the child or if they will need to find other care opportunities for the children. Either way, if you are unable to take possession of your child at an agreed-upon time and date that information will need to be given to your Co-parent in the way that is agreed upon within your final decree of divorce or child custody orders.
Tide to this requirement is the need for you and your Co-parent to include in your court orders the names of persons who are designated as being able to care for your children if you cannot. This is where family members or close friends typically come in handy and will be able to help if you are unable to care for your children for any given reason.
Another requirement that is included in parenting plans is to return your child to the other parent with the belongings that he or she left with. For example, if your child took a sweater from your home to the other parent’s house that parent must ensure that that sweater is returned home. Otherwise, you could violate a court order and generally are not respecting the belongings of your Co-parent.
Whatever circumstance you find yourself regarding a parenting plan it is very important for you to be able to have sound advice when it comes to drafting these orders. Not only is it important for these orders to work for your family now but they need to work in the future. this can be hard to do because we cannot always anticipate the specific needs of our family as our children grow and develop. With that said, working with an experienced family law attorney can help you to determine what should be included in your court orders so that you can make intelligent decisions that can benefit your family.
Questions about the material contained in today’s blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
If you have any questions about the material contained in today’s blog posts please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultation six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are a great way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law as well as about how your family’s circumstances may be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody case. Thank you for your interest in our law practice and we hope that you will join us again on our blog tomorrow.