Custody is the common term for what the legislature calls conservatorship. This is an essential part of any Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship (commonly known as a SAPCR). In this suit, the Court determines the conservatorship and child support for each child under that suit. The legislature constructed a Standard Possession Order which the Courts presume to be in the child's best interest. The Courts keep the child's best interest in the forefront of all decisions, and conservatorship is a key decision. In determining conservatorship, the Court decides which parent determines the primary residence of the child and the distribution of exclusive or shared rights and duties.
Like child support, conservatorship may be modified upon a showing of a material and substantial change in circumstances of the parties or the child. Upon this showing, either party may bring the case back before the Court to modify previous orders. These changes can range from moving a couple of days around to a complete "custody battle." The Law Office of Jodi McShan, PLLC represents clients in both categories and those in between. As with all family law cases, each case is unique and must be approached as such.
To quash a couple of common misconceptions, the mother does not automatically become the primary conservator, and the father is not always cut out of the picture. Furthermore, once the child reaches 12 or 13, the child alone cannot choose in which household he wants to live.
Finally, keep in mind that in almost all orders there is language before the possession schedule that states this is the schedule should the parties not agree. The Courts want the parties to get along and make joint parenting decisions when at all possible.
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