When do I need a court order concerning my children?
- When you are separated and not divorcing, when you are divorcing or when a paternity or legitimation suit has been filed.
What exactly does custody mean?
- In Texas, custody is a term that is used to define which parent has certain decision-making power over the children.
- Except in the extreme circumstances, each party will have certain legal rights as a parent. The legal rights each parent has do not determine how much time that the parent will have with the child. Some legal rights belong to both parents at all times (such as the right to consult with the child's schools or doctors); some legal rights belong to both parents and apply when the child is with them (such as the right to discipline the child or provide routine medical care); and some legal rights will be given to only one parent (such as the right to say where the child will live or to consent to surgery that is not an emergency.)
- In some cases the court may determine where the child will live or what school the child will attend.
- More than likely, your child will live the majority of the time with the parent who is given the legal right to determine where the child lives.
Will the kind of custody affect the times of possession with the child?
- Generally "No." No matter what the custody arrangement is called, the court's goal is to keep the child in a stable environment while encouraging a relationship with both parents. There are guidelines for visitation between each parent and the child which make provisions for weekends, spring break, father's day, mother's day, summer, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. The times with the child are shared, especially during the holidays. There are guidelines for visitation if the parties live within 100 miles of each other and another set of guidelines if the parties live over 100 miles from each other. The parents can always make their own agreements about visitation. The court will order specific times in case the parties cannot agree.
- Child support is generally set out according to a formula.
- Net resources include salary, commissions, overtime, tips, bonuses, divided income, self-employment income, net rental income, severance pay, retirement benefits, pensions, trust income, annuities, capital gains, social security benefits, unemployment benefits, interest income, gifts, prizes, spousal maintenance, and alimony.
- In determining net resources, the court shall take the total amount of the money received from the sources set out above and deduct social security taxes, federal taxes using only one deduction, state income tax, union dues, and the cost of the child's health insurance.
- The court will consider if the person paying support has other children to support and may consider other factors which should be discussed with an attorney.
- The person paying the child support will also probably be ordered to provide health insurance (by getting it him/herself or reimbursing the other parent for the cost of maintaining health insurance) and pay some portion of the medical costs that are not paid by the insurance company.