Common Misconceptions about Child Custody in Texas
I’m Marivonne Essex and I’m the Red Headed Lawyer and I want to talk to you today about some common misconceptions that I see people speak to me about when they come in to talk about situations, legal situations with their family, with divorces, with child custody, that kind of thing. The most common misconception I see regarding children is when someone comes in and says, “I want sole custody of my children. That’s the most important thing to me.” What I do then is I talk to them about what our Texas family code, which is our set of laws, says about custody of children, and the first thing we start with is the label that each parent gets. Except in extreme situations, each parent gets the same label, which is Joint Managing Conservatorship. The label is not near as important as the rights and duties that each parent has regarding their children, and that is what determines what the layman will commonly know as sole custody. The most important right you can have for your children, for example, is the right to decide the residence of those children, so I will speak to people about what that means, and whether it is limited or not. The other rights and duties that commonly get talked about are the right to make medical decisions regarding your children, the right to make psychological and psychiatric decisions regarding your children, the duty or to pay child support, or the right to receive child support. Those are the most important rights and duties. There are many other rights and duties as set out in our set of laws, which all parents commonly have, such as, each parent, except in extreme circumstances, will be able to go to the school and talk to the teacher about how the child is doing. Each person will be able to go to the doctor and see the child’s medical records. Each person has a duty to support the child no matter where the child lives. So when you’re talking about custody of your children, rather than saying, “Sole custody is what is important” what you want to focus on, and what you want to address with your lawyer is, “What rights and duties will I have with my children?” In our office we take those individually and we go over them, each one of them so that you understand what your choices are.