When it comes to determining conservatorship of a child (i.e. child custody) and possession of the child (i.e. visitation rights), it is often in the best interests of all involved to try to reach an amicable settlement out of court. This could lead to less stress for both parents. Also, having more of a say in the final parenting plan may make it easier for each party to stick to it. In addition, going through the process of creating a parenting plan could provide a solid basis for future cooperation on the part of each parent. In fact, Texas law recognizes the benefits of an agreed parenting plan and addresses the parents' right to create one.
Per section 153.007 of the Texas Family Code, parents can create a parenting plan that addresses each parent's rights as conservators and possessors of the child, along with provisions that address the potential for future modification. If the court determines that the parenting plan serves the best interests of the child, it will be approved via a court order. The terms of such a plan can then be made legally enforceable.
If the judge determines that the terms of the parenting plan do not serve the best interests of the child, he or she may ask the parents to revise the plan. Should the parents fail to provide the court with a satisfactory revised plan, the judge will issue a court-ordered conservatorship and possession plan that it believes will serve the child's best interest.
As this shows, many times parents will strive to create a parenting plan out-of-court, and Texas law encourages such endeavors. However, if need be, a judge will make a decision on behalf of the parties if they are unable to come to an agreement on their own. In the end, parenting plans, whether created by the parents or by a judge, must serve the child's best interest. While this post is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney, it should give you a better understanding of parenting plans in Texas.