True or false? Joint custody means you split possession 50/50 and you do not have to pay child support.
False. Under the Texas Family code 153.005, custody is called "conservatorship." Conservatorship is used to describe the legal rights and responsibilities of a parent. Joint managing conservatorship is when the rights and duties of a parent are shared by both parties. However, the judge may make one parent the primary joint managing conservator, who has the right to determine the primary residence of the child. Therefore, even though the parties are named joint managing conservators, this has the effect of giving one parent slightly greater powers.
True or false? There is a cap on the amount of child support that can be ordered by the court.
False. The Texas Family Code 154.121 provides for "Child Support Guidelines" in order to determine child support. In most circumstances, the court will follow the guidelines, but in some circumstances, it may award support and above the guidelines. The Texas Family Code 154.123 explains that the guidelines provide a starting point which can be increased or reduced based on statutory factors:
-Special needs of children
-Ability of the parents to contribute support
-Any financial resources available for the support of the child; or
The amount of possession and access to a child
-If there is a deviation from the statutory guidelines, the court order must contain a written explanation justifying the deviation from the guidelines.
True or false? The children get to choose with which parent they want to live.
False. The Texas Family Code 163.009 allows a parent to request the judge talk with the child to discuss his or her preference regarding their primary residence. The court must interview a child 12 years of age or older and may interview a child under 12 years of age. It is ultimately up to the court to make this decision. The interview with the child is simply evidence to be considered with all the other evidence, and the court is not required to to follow the child's wishes.
True or false? It is easy to move your child to another state.
False. In child custody cases, it is the goal of the Texas courts to ensure children have frequent and regular contact with each parent. This often involves imposing a residency restriction, which restricts a parent from moving with a child outside of the county in which the case is filed or surrounding counties.
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