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What Goes Into a Child Custody Order?

We are often asked by prospective clients for information on what will be in their final custody order. In Texas, there are four main components to a custody order issued by a court in our state. These components are:

  1. Conservatorship
  2. Possession and Access
  3. Child Support
  4. Medical & Dental Support

Child Custody Orders: Conservatorship

In your custody order, there will be a section entitled “Conservatorship”. This section is all about who has the right and duty to make certain decisions regarding your children. In Texas parties can be designated as Joint Managing Conservators or, in appropriate situations, one party may be designated as Sole Managing Conservator and the other parent designated as Possessory Conservator.

The Texas Family Code presumes that it is in the best interest of the child for parties to be named Joint Managing Conservators. For purposes of this discussion, we will focus on the rights and duties shared when parties are appointed Joint Managing Conservators of their children.

While the Texas Family code lays out several rights and duties that Joint Managing Conservators share, there are 4 specific rights that are the most common points of contention in a child custody case.

The most common rights that parties fight over include:

  • The right to designate the primary residence of the child;
  • The right to consent to medical, dental, and surgical treatment involving invasive procedures;
  • The right to consent to psychiatric and psychological treatment of the child; and
  • The right to make decisions concerning the child’s education.

Each of the rights listed above can be exclusive to one party, a joint right between both parties, or a right that each party can exercise independently. Most commonly, the right to designate the primary residence of the child will be exclusive to one party.

Child Custody Orders: Possession and Access

Your custody order will also include terms for possession and access of your child. At all times, parents are allowed to have possession of and access to their child at mutually agreed times. However, your custody agreement should include default terms to follow in the event that you cannot agree with the other parent.

Texas has a presumption in favor of the Standard Possession Order. Most people are familiar with this schedule: the “non-primary” parent exercises possession of the child on first, third, and fifth weeks beginning at 6:00 p.m. on Friday and ending at 6:00 p.m. on the following Sunday. This schedule also includes possession beginning at 6:00 p.m. and ending at 8:00 p.m. on every Thursday during the school year, alternating holidays, and extended summer possession for both parties.

Although the Standard Possession Order is presumed to be in the best interest of the child, parties are able and encouraged to negotiate a schedule that may work for their individual families. Speak with your attorney regarding possible alternatives to the Standard Possession Order and whether an alternative schedule could work for your family.

Child Custody Orders: Child Support

Child support calculations are another important piece of your child custody order. In Texas, the process for calculating child support is based on the guidelines set by the state. The “non-primary” parent will be referred to as the obligor in a child custody order.

Calculating child support will focus on three main things:

  1. The Obligor’s net resources;
  2. The Obligor’s total number of children, and;
  3. The number of children before the court.

To calculate the Obligor’s net resources, the court will subtract the following expenses from the Obligor’s gross income:

  • Social security taxes;
  • Federal and state income taxes;
  • Union dues; and
  • Health and dental premiums for the child’s insurance.

The number of children before the court determines the percentage of Obligor’s net resources that should be paid in child support. For example, an obligor with monthly net resources of $4,000.00 would be ordered to pay $800.00 for one child.

The percentages are listed below based on the number of children in the child custody order:

  • 1 child = 20%
  • 2 children = 25%
  • 3 children = 30%
  • 4 children = 35%
  • 5 children = 40%

*These percentages will vary if the Obligor is responsible for the support of other children.

Child Custody Orders: Medical & Dental Support

In addition to child support, an obligor is responsible for either providing health and dental insurance for the children or responsible for reimbursing the cost of health and dental insurance premiums to the other party.

If you have further questions about a custody order, contact Hunt Law Firm today.

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