Child Custody

What is Custody vs Joint Custody?

Child custody has two components, the power to make decisions regarding the children or “rights and duties,” and the respective periods of possession of the parents.

The rights and duties of the parents include who decides where the children live and if there is a geographic restriction, who makes decisions on major medical issues, and who decides what school the children attend. Under a joint custody order called a “joint managing conservatorship,” the parents may agree or be given the right to make these decisions together except one parent must have the right to determine where the children live.

The possession schedule is decided separately. The Court is not required to award the parents equal time with the children in cases where the parents are appointed joint managing conservators. Parents may, however, agree to equal time with their children subject to the Court’s approval.

What is “Standard Possession” of Children in Texas?

The Standard Possession schedule is a schedule for possession of the children contained in the Texas Family Code. The law presumes that the Standard Possession order is in the best interest of the child. In practical terms, this means the Standard Possession order is the schedule that the Court usually orders in contested custody matters unless there is a compelling reason to do otherwise.

Most custody orders contain provisions allowing the parents to agree to any possession schedule they believe is appropriate, but absent such an agreement, the Standard Order will govern the possession schedule.

Can children decide where they want to live?

When children reach the age of 12, the law allows them to express an opinion, however, it is not binding on the Court. Be advised that involving children in a divorce or putting them in the position of having to choose between their parents can have serious adverse consequences on their long-term well being.

Can my spouse prevent me from moving in the future?

The Court may place a geographic restriction on the residence of the children. This restriction is often either the county in which the divorce occurs or the county of the divorce and any county that shares a border with the county of divorce. These residency restrictions, however, usually require the parent who does not determine where the children live to also remain in the same geographic area or the restriction can be lifted.

Practice Areas

From the wide-ranging issues of divorce to the delicate nature of child support and child custody, McFarland Law Firm, P.C. focuses on a variety of issues and cases dealing directly and indirectly with matters of family law.


A Texas divorce involves both the division of the parties’ property and, if children are involved, child custody and child support.


Child Custody

Child custody may be initially rendered in a Divorce or a Suit to Establish the Parent Child-Relationship, which is a custody case between unmarried parties.


Child Support

A child support order may be initially rendered in a Divorce or a Suit to Establish the Parent-Child Relationship, which is a custody case between unmarried parties.


Spousal Support

Spousal support may be awarded in cases where the parties have been married more than 10 years or a spouse has been convicted of or received deferred adjudication for a crime of family violence.




Mediation is a non-binding confidential settlement conference at which a neutral mediator is present to help you and your spouse reach a final settlement of your case.



Grandparent Visitation

Grandparents have the right to file a lawsuit for visitation and managing conservatorship of a grandchild in certain circumstances OR if both parents consent to the grandparent filing a suit.



Domestic Violence

The Texas Family Code has special provisions for relationships where domestic abuse has occurred or is alleged.



Parents have a right to have their prior custody and child support orders reviewed when there has been a change in circumstances.




Paternity of a child may be initially determined in a Divorce or a Suit to Establish the Parent-Child Relationship, which is a custody case between unmarried parties.



Interstate Issues

When a child custody case involves individuals in different states, the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) determines jurisdiction.



Hague Convention

International child abduction and child custody is governed by the international treaty of the Hague Convention on International Child Abduction.



If a parent has not complied with an order for possession and access to a child or an obligation to pay child support, and that parent does not have a valid defense, then the Court may fine or jail a non-compliant parent.