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What Should I Know About Child Custody Laws Before I Get Divorced?

D Best-winner Kelly McClure weighs in on the laws that all divorcing parents should know.

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 law 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 law 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:

In child custody cases, it is the goal of the Texas courts to ensure children have frequent and regular contact with each parent.

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 law 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 to determine the child’s best interests, 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 family 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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The McClure Law Group is a Dallas boutique family law firm comprised of seasoned, high-octane Texas divorce attorneys who work tirelessly to deliver results when fortune and family matter. With the knowledge and expertise gained from decades of legal experience, Kelly McClure and the team of family lawyers and professionals at the McClure Law Group serve clients from throughout Dallas, Texas, and the country, from high-profile executives, professional athletes, celebrities to stay-at-home parents. McClure Law Group combines financial acumen in tax law, state-of-the-art research tools, efficient technology, extensive trial experience, and collaborative law training to design a resolution that protects the best interests of their clients’ fortunes and families. The team works passionately and tirelessly for meaningful outcomes in complex divorces, division of assets, custody matters, pre- and post-marital agreements, and other family law matters. A leader in the collaborative law movement, Kelly McClure and the attorneys at the McClure Law Group law office offer clients the option of a collaborative approach to maintain privacy and reduce the financial and emotional burdens associated with family law issues, legal issues and custody issues. This level of discretion and confidentiality in an attorney-client relationship is appealing to high-profile business and community leaders and individuals who want to protect their privacy. If, however, collaborative law is not an option and litigation is necessary, McClure Law Group’s high-energy, tough, no-nonsense demeanor and dynamic presence make them a powerhouse in the courtroom. Each McClure Law Group attorney is active in the legal profession and community, and they work together on charitable projects. This well-rounded approach ensures the firm is knowledgeable, well-known, and respected. McClure is a frequent lecturer on family law matters to other child custody attorneys. McClure Law Group brings values and commitment to its clients with the guiding principles of “Clients First, Legal Excellence, Ethical Excellence, Discretion, and Compassion.

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