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There is currently a bill in the Texas Legislature, Texas House Bill 453 which aims to promote equal custody to parents in a divorce.
Currently, the Texas Family Code mandates that the “best interest of the child shall always be the primary consideration of the court in determining the issues of conservatorship and possession of and access to the child.” Court are given discretion to decide what type of visitation plan is best based on the specific circumstances of the parties.
Texas House Bill 453 would change that by saying when parents are named joint managing conservator “the court shall enter a possession order.. .that provides for equal parenting, unless the court determines that the order is not in the best interest of the child…”
It may seem like a small change in the language, but it aims to make equal custody the default position in a divorce instead of what the judge decides is in the best interest of the child. The concerns about the bill seem to be whether it will overly limit the discretion of a judge to evaluate the specific circumstances of a given case. Additionally, the bill doesn’t say what “equal parenting” is. Does that mean divide the week in half, alternating weeks, or some other schedule? The bill doesn’t define the term.
It will be interesting to see what kind of opposition and support this bill receives moving forward. A copy of the bill can be seen here: http://www.legis.state.tx.us/tlodocs/85R/billtext/html/HB00453I.htm .
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