A bill pending in the Texas legislature would require courts to default to 50/50 custody for divorcing parents. If a parent requests more than half the available parenting time, he or she must prove that an even split could harm the child’s best interests.
Review the current custody laws in comparison to the terms of the Equal Parenting Act, currently under review by the state House.
Current Texas custody laws
The state courts default to a 75/25 custody split when parents divorce under the so-called standard possession order. The noncustodial parent has custody on the odd-numbered weekends of the month, every other holiday, at least 30 days during summer vacation, Thursday evenings during the school year and any other time the parents agree.
When parents live more than 100 miles apart, the court removes the weeknight visit, extends the summer period to 42 days, and may reduce the noncustodial parent’s time to one weekend a month.
Currently, parents who want 50/50 custody must show that this arrangement serves the child’s best interests. The bill will not allow this arrangement, called joint managing conservatorship, if either parent has a history of domestic violence or abuse. Texas courts recognize several types of modified possession orders, including every-other-week custody for each parent.
Equal Access Texas, a nonprofit organization that advocates for 50/50 shared parenting, cites peer-reviewed studies that highlight positive outcomes for children who have equal time with both parents after a divorce. Research also shows that sharing time equally can reduce parental conflict, which also benefits children.