Parents who are divorcing or separating worry about the physical and emotional welfare of their children. How will they make certain children have a close and involved relationship with each parent and with friends, especially if the children will be changing schools or moving from the home they have known? How will the parents share responsibility for important legal decisions for the children like where they live primarily or go to school? What if the relationship between the parents and/or the children is not healthy? Parents deeply need to feel confident they are doing everything they can to promote and protect their children's best interests and to make well informed choices during this time of transition and into the future.
Parents in Texas are presumed to be "joint managing conservators" with shared legal decision-making and physical custody of the children ("possession, access, and visitation"). However, that does not mean Texas parenting time or legal decisions for children are shared equally. There can be a real disconnect between the daily, weekend, holiday, and vacation parenting schedule Texas custody law provides in its "standard possession order" and the shared parenting plan parents envision and believe is best for their own children.
The Texas standard possession order applies to children age three and over unless the judge finds evidence and proof it is not in the child's best interest or the parents make a different agreement. Texas's "standard possession order" is the minimum time the State believes is in a child's best interest to spend with the "possessory conservator" who is the nonresident parent or "co-parent". The "managing conservator" or "home parent" is the parent in whose home the children spend most of their time. The standard possession order divides parenting time approximately 65% to the home parent and 35% to the co-parent, and many provisions depend on whether the co-parent lives more or less than 100 miles from the primary residence of the children. Texas law does not have a standard parenting plan for children under three; each judge has his or her own "step up" plan which gives even more time to the home parent.
Fortunately, parents can agree to a parenting schedule that varies from the Texas standard possession order and from a judge's under three plan. A huge benefit for parents who reach agreement in mediation is a judge cannot substitute his or her parenting plan for theirs.
Parents who want to craft customized daily, weekend, summer, birthday, holiday, and vacation time with their children seek out Detente's neutral mediator to educate, guide, and assist each of them to come up with these details together. Detente clients often say they need help because they aren't sure how to do what they want to do much less draft it into a legal document. They are concerned lawyers would create conflict and expense, but if they try to do it themselves without professional assistance they may miss something important or make mistakes. They like and appreciate that the mediator works for their family's benefit and does not represent one parent against the other.
Detente's divorce and family mediator will also help parents address the other legal requirements:
- Child support
- Children's health and dental insurance, and payment of premiums, co-pays, and deductibles
Benefits of Parenting Plan Mediation
- Agree to cooperate and have consistency between households
- Improve your communication as co-parents
- Try out shared parenting schedules for children of different ages or development
- Discuss special needs for children
- Customize children's time with parents who travel, don't have regular schedules, or have mental or physical challenges or addiction
Please remember you are not alone. Your Detente mediator works with parents everyday who see the value of making decisions together for their children after talking them through with a legal professional who won't take sides. There's help for you and your family too. Parenting and child specialists in our resource network are also available if the parents and the mediator want additional expertise on a unique issue.
Set up a free consultation with Detente Mediation's professional divorce and family mediator to discuss your personal situation and learn more about the benefits and cost effectiveness of mediation.