Joint Managing Conservatorship or Joint Custody, Now the Decision of Many Family Courts

Family courts consider many different factors when making decisions over divorce-related issues, which include child custody and visitation rights, child support, spousal support or alimony, and division of property, assets and debts. Though these factors usually differ from one state to another, there is one similar basis when it comes to determining who shall have custody of the child: the child’s best interest.

Under Texas statute, the overarching standard for Austin and Texas courts in making conservatorship determinations is to ensure that children will have frequent and continuing contact with parents who have shown the ability to act in the best interest of the child and to encourage parents to share in the rights and duties of raising a child after they have separated or divorced.`

More than one hundred years ago, child custody was a right enjoyed by fathers; this was due to the Property Law and inheritance issues that were in effect during those times. The early 1900s saw a new direction in how courts decided over child custody cases. Having perceived that mothers were naturally better caretakers of their children, there was, then, the transfer of custodial right to mothers. This perception came to be known as the “The Tender Years Doctrine” and it remained to be observed up to the 1970s.

Since then, neither father nor mother has the sole right to custodianship or conservatorship because so long as the court finds both parents fit to care for their child, then the child will not be denied the love and care of both parents. This is why many courts today are in favor of joint conservatorship and, so, give both parents equal time with their child, as well as equal rights in making decisions for their child’s well-being. Under the joint managing conservatorship ruling, the child may either reside with one parent at a location that is easily accessible to the other parent, or move from one parent’s residence to another.

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Determining Child Custody and Support Payments

On the early Saturday of April 2, police deputies swarmed all over Harris County, Texas to give out arrest warrants to parents who have failed to pay a minimum of $20,000 in child support payments.

According to Constable Alan Rosen, even though law enforcement “executes” all kinds of court orders every day, “it really pulls at our heart strings to see arrest orders showing that defiance of a family court judge means that children are left without proper resources.”

A survey conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics show that around 41% of first marriages usually result in a divorce, with that rate increasing to 60% and 73% for second and third marriages, respectively.

Child support is defined as the financial obligation to support your child as he or she grows up, regardless if he or she lives with you or not, but more so if you are not the parent providing the primary care.

The website of attorneys at the Maynard Law Firm says that it is essentially easier to determine the amount of child support that one parent has to provide the co-parent in a sole custody case as such amount is usually decided upon in court in front of a judge after each parent has presented his or her case and the factors to his or her ability to provide for the child, such as a stable income and the manner of how he or she gets it. In a joint custody case, however, it gets a little trickier.

In a joint custody case, percentage each co-parent contributed to the joint income at the time they were married influences how one parent would pay for child support in the way that the more one parent contributes to the joint income, the more that person has to pay for child support.

Also, the percentage of time each parent actually has physical custody of the children determines the amount of child support that might be owed. That is to say, the parent who is the one living with the children is assumed by the courts to bear most of the child-rearing costs. As such, the parent who lives with the children only 20% of the time will have to pay more in child support than the ex-spouse who spends 80% of their time with the children.

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Child Support Modifications

With the ups and downs that are going on with the economy, many parents have suffered having to have legal issues regarding child support, or taking care of their child with the existing child support. Paying or receiving child support payments can become a burden to some, and there may be a time where modifications for child support are needed. Fortunately, parents are given options for modifications of child support.

The first thing to do in order to have child support modifications is to check if both you and the other parent agree on changing the child support agreement. Having a judge approve of the changes can make these changes more legal, and majority of the time the court would agree provided that the amount does not deviate from the one required by the State guidelines; otherwise a proper explanation should be provided on why and how the amount will be enough for child support.

Another option, according to the website of the Law Offices of Baden V. Mansfield in Manhattan Beach, is to go to court directly to ask for a child support modification, particularly if the other parent does not agree with the changes. The court can become the mediator that can listen to both your sides and decide on an appropriate settlement. A temporary or permanent child support modification can be granted by the court depending on the circumstances presented in court. Permanent child support modification will last until the support is no longer needed, or if the child support is again modified at a later date due to other changes in circumstances.

What parents should know is that if they are considering any changes on child support, they should address it immediately. Missing child support payments can lead to criminal charges, therefore circumstances such as job or income loss should be reported immediately. Filing for bankruptcy will not clear child support debts, therefore if you are having trouble paying for child support, then it would be better to ask the other parent of file for a motion in court.

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