Texas Law requires parents to submit a proposed Parenting Plan when getting a divorce in Texas whenever children are involved. Divorce and Family Law Attorney Susan Compton Kherkher addresses this issue and assists her clients in the process.
Different states may have differing laws pertaining to divorce; however, in Texas it is a requirement for anyone seeking a divorce that has children to submit a Parenting Plan to the court. (See Texas Family Code Section 153.601). In 2005, the Texas Legislature updated its Child Custody and Visitation Laws by requiring Parenting Plans to essentially replace or supplement the Standard Possession Order previously associated with child custody and visitation in Texas.
Some of the most challenging and contentious issues that arise during a divorce often revolve around children, child custody, child support and visitation. A Parenting Plan is necessary as a temporary or final court order affecting the parent-child relationship that sets out the rights as well as the duties of each parent and also includes provisions relating to conservatorship, possession of and access to a child and child support. It can also be somewhat of a resolution process to avoid or minimize future disputes.
As a recognized expert in matters relating to Family Law, Houston Attorney Susan Compton Kherkher assists her clients going through a divorce who have children in the process of submitting a Parenting Plan promoting the best interest of all children involved. In addition to helping these parents resolve their issues related to parenting, both parties usually find it much easier to come to an agreement on other concerns regarding community property once the children are cared for.
According to the Texas Family Code, the parenting plan must:
(A) Set out rights and duties of a parent or a person acting as a parent in relation to the child;
(B) Provide for periods of possession of and access to the child, which may be the terms set out in the standard possession order under Subchapter F and any amendments to the standard possession order agreed to by the parties or found by the court to be in the best interest of the child;
(C) Provide for child support; and
(D) Optimize the development of a close and continuing relationship between each parent and the child.
In some cases a third party “Parenting Coordinator” may be appointed by the court to assist the parents in resolving issues relating to parenting and/or other family issues. Under current Texas Family Code Section 153.601(3), the court may not appoint a parent coordinator unless the court specifically finds that the case is a high conflict case or there is good cause shown for the appointment and it would be in the best interest of the child or children.
A high-conflict case is defined as one in which the parents have demonstrated an “unusual degree” of repetitious litigation, anger and distrust, or difficulty in communicating about and cooperating in the care of their children. There could be a variety of reasons wherein the court might find it necessary to require a parenting coordinator. It is also not uncommon for some parties to utilize a private mediator who specializes in family law to help mediate a parenting plan in order to provide for the children’s care and custody.
This type of legislation should encourage parents to share in the rights and duties of raising their children with agreed upon parenting plans and will allow for the broadened use of alternative dispute resolution methods such as mediation to help alleviate a backlog in the family court system. In addition, this may help many parents resolve future disputes without having to return to court each time a conflict arises.