In Texas, parents often resolve child custody matters themselves outside of court. Doing so allows them to maintain control over the outcomes and be creative with solutions.
Custody discussions primarily involve deciding on parental rights and where a child will live. However, there are other issues that parents may need to talk about when they are addressing child custody.
- Pet custody – Pets are increasingly the subjects of custody discussions between owners outside of court, considering the fact that Texas courts could treat them as property. Owners can find themselves deciding who will care for an animal or whether to divide custody between them. As part of a pet custody plan, parents may discuss who will pay for an animal’s medical needs or whether they will keep a child and pet together.
- Relationships with other family members – Some parents proactively address a child’s relationship with extended family and grandparents in a parenting plan. They might agree that a child should have ongoing access and a relationship with grandparents, step-siblings or other relatives. They might also seek to put restrictions on exchanges with certain parties.
- Managing health-related decisions for children – Healthcare decisions for a child can involve vaccinations, compliance with pandemic-related guidelines and medication. When parents both have the legal right to make these decisions for their children, they would be wise to discuss their views and decision-making process as part of custody.
- Addressing a child’s lifestyle – Children today face challenges that they may not have a generation ago. Parents could be navigating matters related to social media, grooming, identity and cultural education for which they do not have a roadmap. However, by working together, parents can make commitments in their custody or parenting plan that reinforce their dedication to their child’s physical and mental health.
These issues can present conflicts and confusion for parents, so it can be helpful to work with attorneys, mediators and other professionals who can help guide parents toward a satisfactory solution.
No two child custody cases are the same. Every family has different needs and interests that warrant attention in a divorce or separation. Preparing yourself accordingly can help you preserve your interests and make decisions that protect your parental rights and the best interests of your child.