Half of all children in the U.S. will experience their parents divorcing. But the end of a marriage isn’t the end of a family. If you’re in the process of a divorce in Texas and you have children, you’re probably going to have to create a custody or parenting time agreement. Hopefully, you and your former spouse can find an arrangement that works for you without too much frustration, but if you need some help, Texas Legal attorney Jaclyn Roberson shared with us some tips on creating a parenting and custody agreement that works for your family.
Trends in Custody Agreements in Texas
Roberson has noticed that modern dads aren’t satisfied with older style custody arrangements of every other weekend and one weeknight. They want more time with their kids.
“Back in the day, people would only seek 50/50 custody a way of getting out of paying child support,” says Roberson. “But parents today legitimately want that equal time with their child. More and more dads are realizing they don’t have to accept the weekend visitation.”
When Roberson encounters a mom who isn’t sure about an equal custody arrangement, she says she challenges them to open their mind to the possibility.
“I tell them, ‘Just as you live with the child, your husband lives with the child too. Your child doesn’t get to see both of you at the same time now. Dad just wants the same thing as you do,'” says Roberson. “I encourage fathers to speak up about the kind of visitation they want with their child and not to just assume that all they can get is weekend visits.”
Ideas for Custody Arrangements In Texas
With more and more parents sharing equal custody of their children, families and attorneys have gotten creative when it comes to how to divide the time. Here are a few ways Roberson says she’s seen her clients divide parenting time when creating a custody agreement:
- Alternating Weeks – One parent has the child for the week, other parent has child for next week. Usually switch on Sunday or Monday evening.
- 2-2-3 Split – One parent has the child for two days, then the child goes to the other parent for two days, and then the first parent has three days, usually Friday and the weekend. The next week, the other parent ends up with the weekend.
- 2-2-5-5 Split – Parents alternate back and forth, first for shorter period of 2 days, then for two longer periods of five days. This fourteen day cycle will fill two weeks This allows parents to never go more than 5 days without seeing their kids, and kids tend to spend one half of the week with one parent and the other half of the week with the other parent with alternating weekends
- 3-4-4-3 Split – This split divides the week nearly in half and allows one parent to get three days one week and then four days the next week and vice versa.
What Makes For the Ideal Parenting Time Agreement in Texas?
Roberson shared some tips for finding the right balance in a parenting agreement:
- Be Creative and Flexible. Roberson sees a lot of parents with unusual work hours that require creative agreements. For example, in San Antonio, many people work at the Toyota plant, which often requires them to work odd shifts, such as two weeks during the day and then two weeks at night. She encourages parents to think about what will work for their schedules so the agreement feels doable for the whole family.
- Consider Kids’ Schedules. “Often kids’ schedules are worse than adults. Kids have a lot going on. They have jobs. They have all kinds of activities,” says Roberson. Think about how their schedule will affect who they’re staying with and when exchanges happen.
- Minimize Exchanges. Roberson says she generally thinks that fewer exchanges are better – easier for people to remember and less disruptive for the kids, but do what works best for your family.
- Use an App. Roberson recommends the app “My Family Wizard” for creating a shared calendar that both parents can access, as well as upload receipts for different expenses and schedules. “A lot of times when we have clients who don’t communicate well, or there’s two wildly different versions of the truth,” says Roberson. “Using an app can help simplify things.”
- Ask Your Child. Roberson says she wouldn’t make the child the decision maker when it comes to creating a custody agreement, but it is important to consider their wishes.
- Think About the Long Term. Although your relationship with your former spouse may be contentious now, don’t let that tension keep your child from seeing their parent. “It may feel good today to deny someone their visitation, but think about how it’s going to be for your child,” says Roberson. “Your child is always going to remember those denied visits.”
- Be Cooperative. “Judges do not like when parents hold the child back from the other parent,” says Roberson. “Unless there’s a problem with the other parent, it’s so much easier to just cooperate.”
Get Legal Help If You Need It
Texas Legal’s legal protection plans cover custody agreements, as well as consultations with an attorney. If you need an attorney to help you create a parenting time agreement for your family, take a look at Texas Legal’s Attorney Finder to locate a family law attorney near you.