Texas Child Custody and Visitation Schedules: Crafting a Parenting Plan

When parents decide to separate or divorce, one of the most critical aspects to consider is the well-being and care of their children. In Texas, developing a parenting plan that outlines child custody and visitation schedules is essential for ensuring a smooth transition and promoting stability for the children involved. In this informative guide, we’ll delve into the intricacies of crafting a parenting plan tailored to the unique needs of Texas families.

Understanding Child Custody

In Texas, child custody is divided into two main categories: legal custody and physical custody. Each type plays a distinct role in a child’s upbringing and living arrangements, and understanding these distinctions is vital for parents involved in custody decisions.

Legal Custody

Legal custody grants a parent the authority to make major decisions affecting their child’s life. This includes decisions about the child’s education, such as choosing schools and educational programs; healthcare, including medical treatments and choosing healthcare providers; and religious upbringing, which involves decisions about the child’s participation in religious practices and the selection of a religious institution. Legal custody can either be awarded to one parent (sole legal custody) or shared between both parents (joint legal custody). In a joint legal custody arrangement, both parents collaborate on significant decisions, ensuring both have an active role in shaping the child’s future.

Physical Custody

Physical custody, also known as possession and access in Texas, determines where the child will reside and outlines the logistics of the child’s day-to-day life. This type of custody specifies which parent the child will live with on a regular basis and sets the schedule for visitations with the other parent. Similar to legal custody, physical custody can be either sole or joint. Sole physical custody means that the child primarily lives with one parent, while the other parent may have visitation rights. Joint physical custody involves the child spending substantial time living with both parents, which can help maintain strong relationships with each parent.

Types of Custody Arrangements

Texas recognizes various custody arrangements, including sole custody, joint custody, and shared custody. Sole custody grants one parent primary physical and legal custody of the child, while joint custody allows both parents to share decision-making responsibilities and often involves a visitation schedule. Shared custody involves the child spending substantial time with both parents, typically in equal or nearly equal proportions.

Developing a Visitation Schedule

A visitation schedule outlines when the non-custodial parent will have access to the child. In Texas, visitation schedules can be highly flexible and tailored to the needs of the parents and the child. Common visitation schedules include alternating weekends, mid-week visits, and extended holiday and vacation periods. The goal is to create a schedule that promotes frequent and meaningful contact between the child and both parents while accommodating the child’s school, extracurricular, and social activities.

Factors to Consider

When crafting a parenting plan and visitation schedule, it’s essential to consider the child’s age, developmental needs, and preferences, as well as each parent’s work schedule, living arrangements, and ability to provide care. Additionally, parents should be mindful of maintaining open communication and cooperation to facilitate the successful implementation of the plan.

Legal Assistance and Mediation

Developing a parenting plan can be complex and emotionally challenging. Seeking guidance from a family law attorney experienced in Texas child custody matters can help parents navigate the process and ensure that their rights and the best interests of their children are protected. Mediation may also be a valuable tool for resolving disputes and reaching mutually acceptable agreements outside of court.


Crafting a parenting plan that addresses child custody and visitation schedules is a crucial step in the divorce or separation process for Texas families. By understanding the legal principles and considerations involved and seeking appropriate legal assistance, parents can create a comprehensive plan that promotes the well-being and stability of their children during and after the transition.