The judgment in a SAPCR suit regarding child custody is set out in the required parenting plan. This plan sets out the rights of the parties to make decisions for the child and provides for “visitation periods,” or periods of possession and access.
There are two types of conservators: managing and possessory.
Furthermore, managing conservators are either “sole managing conservators” or “joint managing conservators.” Being a sole managing conservator means the person has exclusive rights to make certain decisions for the child – without input from the other parties. Being a joint managing conservator means the person shares the right to make certain decisions for the child.
However, even in joint managing conservator situations one party will typically have exclusive right to determine certain aspects of the child’s life, like residence. This is an important right to have and is usually the most contentious part of any SAPCR suit regarding child custody.
When someone talks about visitation periods, they are talking about having “possession and access” to the child.
In the Texas Family Code there are several guidelines for what is considered standard possession in different situations. Therefore, if the child in question is less than 3 years old then the court will follow a different guideline than if the child was 3 or older. Also, when the parties live more than 100 miles apart then the court will follow different guidelines than if they lived closer together.
While there is a rebuttable presumption that the standard possession order provides reasonable minimum possession of a child for a parent and is in the best interest of the child, there are certain situations when the standard possession order is unworkable or not in the best interest of the child. In these situations, the court will review other evidence to create a plan that is in the best interest of the child.
As a general rule, when calculating child support the court will base its decision only on the rules and guidelines found in the Texas Family Code. However, the court may adjust this amount up or down if its calculation is unjust, inappropriate, or not in the child’s best interest.
Also, when requesting child support, many times parties must review whether medical support and retroactive child support is also appropriate.