More and more family judges in Texas it seems are willing to move away from standard custody procedure in the state and render judgments in favor of 50/50 shared child custody arrangements. Currently, Texas adheres to a standard possession schedule which allows for the non-custodial parents to spend time with children on weekends, holidays, and in the summertime.
During the state’s last legislative session a bill was introduced that proposed to make 50/50 custody arrangements imposable by law and not just by agreement. The bill had some traction with Texas lawmakers but did not pass. This, however, has not slowed the trend of Texas judges approving 50/50 custody agreements with much more regularity.
The increase in the numbers of these agreements has caused many to question how 50/50 custody agreements affect both child support issues, and the schedule for physical possession of the child or children in question.
Child Support Issues
There is no mechanism under Texas laws that mandate how child support should be ordered in 50/50 custody agreements. However, there is a common list of options from which judges tend to choose.
It is commonplace in 50/50 custody agreements that when both parents earn income in the same relative range that neither parent is ordered to pay child support.
A second option would be for the two parents to both be responsible for the expenses specifically associated with their own homes, but accept joint responsibility for children’s expenses outside of the home. These would include expenses such as medical bills and extracurricular activities. This option is frowned upon by some because of the resulting bookkeeping and added back and forth it causes between the parents.
A third option that has been used by judges in 50/50 custody agreements is to calculate for both parents the amount each would be ordered to pay if an order was made to pay child support. Then, the parent with the higher payment number would pay the difference to the parent with the lower payment amount. This option is of benefit when one parent has a monthly income that is considerably higher than the other.
Physical Custody Of Child
The most common agreement as to the physical custody of the child in 50/50 custody agreements is a week on, a week off. Exchange dates on either Monday or Friday are usually selected to correspond with school attendance. The child would stay with one parent for a week and then the other parent the following week.
An arrangement that is also used that is a little more complicated is a 2-2-5 agreement. With this agreement the child would stay with one parent on Monday and Tuesday, then would leave to stay with the other parent on Wednesday and Thursday. The child would alternate weekends with the two parents and this would all work to result in each parent getting five straight days with the child every other week.
Other lesser used agreements all center around the concept of the child alternating between the two parents for an equal amount of time. For example, six months with one parent followed by six months with the second parent.
The trend towards 50/50 custody agreements are in line with a larger push for the protection of parental rights for fathers and will seemingly not lose momentum anytime soon. This added complexity for custody hearings in the state of Texas makes it imperative to secure a competent legal advisor early in the process to assure the protection of parental rights. You need a skilled divorce attorney on your side.
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