Divorce is difficult, but it can be especially trying when children are involved. In addition to the challenging task of explaining divorce to your children, you must also figure out a custody arrangement. In many circumstances, setting up a joint custody schedule may be appropriate for those getting a divorce in Austin.
What Is Joint Custody?
Joint custody refers to an agreement where parents share certain types of custody, such as joint physical or joint legal custody.
A parent with physical custody has the right to have their child reside with them. Legal custody is the ability to make important choices, such as religious and medical, about a child’s upbringing.
In a true joint custody arrangement, parents share legal custody and have a physical joint custody schedule. In addition to having equitable time with their child, parents have an equal say over important life decisions.
True joint custody arrangements are not impossible, but they can be difficult. This is why parents often share only joint physical or joint legal custody. With just a joint physical custody agreement in place, parents share equal custodial time with the child, but only one parent is entitled to make important life decisions on their behalf.
In a joint legal custody situation, each parent will have equal say over the child’s upbringing, but there will be no joint custody schedule. One parent will have primary physical custody and a visitation schedule will be set up.
Child Support and Joint Custody
Some Austin parents mistakenly believe that joint custody means there is no child support requirement. A judge could decide that neither parent owes child support, but this is only normal when each parent’s income level is the same.
Even though they consider the joint custody schedule, courts usually require the higher-earning parent to pay child support. Setting the amount is at the court’s discretion. They often consider how much each parent would pay with a sole physical custody arrangement and then take the difference.
In some situations, parents with multiple children will each receive sole physical custody of at least one child, called a split custody arrangement. Texas courts consider each parent’s employment level and how many children they care for. This arrangement is uncommon, however, since shared custody agreements are healthier for children.
How Joint Custody Schedules Work
Joint custody schedules take many forms. Hopefully, you’ll come to an agreement with the other parent, but if not, the courts will set a schedule. In a simple setup, your child spends the first two days in a week with one parent, the next two with the other, and then the next three days with the first parent. The parent who starts each week will alternate.
You may also have an alternating shared custody schedule. Your child will spend alternate weeks with each of you, and there will be times when one of you has more time with your child. This is great for parents who do not live close by.
Figuring out schedules and shared custody can be difficult in a divorce. The appropriate legal help, though, can make things easier.