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Decisions made by divorcing parents

No couple enters a marriage or starts a family with the idea that they will not remain together. Unfortunately, roughly half of all marriages end in divorce, meaning some Texas parents must face the reality of spending less time with their children. Although there are countless vital decisions that must be made during dissolution, those decisions focused on the child or children are imperative.

Divorcing parents need to focus on three issues. These include: custody, visitation and financial support. Understanding how these factors could be addressed, can be helpful for parents during and after the divorce process. This not only helps them reach a resolution, but also equips them with the information necessary to resolve any future problems.

To begin, divorcing parents should note that child custody agreements are not a one size fits all decision. Parents and children have unique needs, and a custody arrangement could be developed to meet the best interests of the child. Although there is a perception that the court favors mothers over fathers when it comes to awarding primary custody, because shared custody makes the most sense, and is likely ideal for both parents, this is the custody arrangement often sought after.

However, if circumstances arise where a parent believes it is in the best interests of the child to remain with one parent, likely the primary caretaker, visitation will need to be awarded to the other parent. Visitation occurs when access to the child needs to be awarded to a non-custodial parent. Visitation could take many forms, but frequently looks like a non-custodial parent having the children every other weekend. This could also look like have weekly overnights or dinners with the child as well.

While child custody and child support are two different and distinct divorce issues to decide, a custody arrangement or modification to a current order could impact the need for child support. The object of child support is to ensure the financial needs of a child are met. And if primarily one parent is raising a child, child support obligations by the non-custodial parent might occur.

While divorcing with children is anything but easy, it is an obstacle some parents must face. Thus, it is imperative that divorcing parents understand their legal rights and ability to protect their parental rights and interests throughout and following the divorce process.

Source: Journalnow.com, "Understand the law on child custody, visitation and support," Mike Wells, Sept. 2, 2017

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