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parenting plans

Parenting plans—also known as custody agreements or custody and visitation agreements—are proposals submitted by parents for how issues involving children should be handled following a divorce or other proceeding in family court. The court will usually request the parents submit such a document proposing how conservatorship (decision-making), custody or possession, support, and other issues will be handled. The court may adopt some or all of these proposals and include them in the court’s order (divorce decree, child support and custody order), at which point the become legally enforceable.

In many states there is a standard possession order (SPO) that serves as the default terms for such matters, and as a useful starting point for parents who wish to modify it by agreement.

In Texas, parenting plans are essential components of family law proceedings involving children. These plans outline how divorced or separated parents will share responsibilities and time with their children. Texas law requires that a parenting plan must address conservatorship (legal decision-making authority), possession and access (physical custody and visitation), child support, and other relevant issues concerning the child's welfare. The court encourages parents to work together to create a parenting plan that serves the best interests of the child. If the parents can agree on a plan, the court will typically approve it and incorporate it into the final order. However, if the parents cannot agree, the court will decide the terms based on the child's best interests. Texas also has a Standard Possession Order (SPO), which provides a default schedule for possession and access that is presumed to be in the best interest of the child. Parents can use the SPO as a guideline and may agree to modify its terms to better fit their circumstances. Once the court adopts a parenting plan, it becomes legally enforceable, and violations of the plan can lead to legal consequences.

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