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Will Joint Physical Custody Work for You?

I work daily with clients to manage, arrange or enforce child custody arrangements in Texas, especially in the southeastern corner of Texas in and near Houston.  If you have a family and are divorced, chances are good you will deal with a conservatorship issue somewhere along the line.

Along with property issues, disagreement over child custody arrangements can spark destructive, lasting conflict between parents, and between parents and their children. Making the right arrangement — in the best interests of the children — is essential.

Joint managing conservatorship (JMC) is an arrangement presumed by Texas courts providing both parents with decision-making authority at significant turns in the life of their child.

That arrangement names the custodial parent as primary joint managing conservator and a non-custodial parent as the possessory conservator. The possessory conservator is entitled to child visitation at court-ordered times, usually in accordance with established law referred to as the “standard possession order” or sometimes at agreed-upon times or other times pursuant to a finding by the court of special circumstances requiring a special schedule.

If you are considering — or demanding — joint physical custody often referred to in Texas as split possession or 50/50 possession, whereby both parents enjoy significant or equal parenting time in a manner different from the standard possession order, reflect on these important concerns:

  • Do you get along with your ex-partner? High-conflict couples are not good candidates for joint physical custody. Frequent, reasonable communication is required between parents who frequently shift children back and forth. If the divorce was high-conflict, chances are good the custodial environment will be, too.
  • Is it about money? Do you desire greater parenting time to obtain or defer child support payments?
  • How will you handle getting the kids to school? You might need a strict geographic restriction to keep both parents living near each other so the children can attend the same schools and neither parent would be forced to drive a long way to take the children to school.

The latter is a very critical problem for courts. You must solve this problem before a court will even consider a 50/50 split. Some courts will deny a 50/50 split as a matter of policy, and will insist on a standard possession order no matter what you do. Courts have policies and judges who do not grant 50/50 splits have that authority.

Children need both parents. But couples — and children — who experience successful 50/50 or shared custody are in the minority. If you are dealing with a conservatorship, ask yourself the hard questions and talk to an experienced child custody attorney.

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Robert Reid McInvale Attorney Photo
Robert Reid McInvale
Attorney at Law

Robert Reid McInvale is an experienced family law attorney with a comprehensive practice in Houston. He provides dedicated and strong advocacy for his clients, helping them with all the issues surrounding their divorce, separation, child custody, and other marriage and family matters. Attorney McInvale—Reid to clients and friends—seemed destined for a law career. Born while his father was attending Emory University Law School, Reid grew up in Manchester, GA. His father was the city attorney for many years, as well as head of the Manchester Chamber of Commerce. It is in the family blood to become lawyers and help people get justice. U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall is part of the McInvale family tree.

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