When people in Texas get a divorce, they might share both physical and legal custody of their children. In another arrangement, one parent might have physical custody while the other person has visitation rights while they both still share legal custody. The parent who has legal custody has the right to make major decisions that will affect the child's life in areas such as religion, health care and schooling.
There are a few elements that can make shared legal custody optimal. If both parents actively participate in the child's life, shared legal custody may work. If one parent tends to be hard to reach or is otherwise unreliable, there could be problems. Joint legal custody also works better if there is not too much conflict between parents, but conflict does not mean it is impossible. In fact, it can be good for children to see their parents working through conflict with one another to reach an agreement.
There might be situations in which having to confer with the other parent is inconvenient. On the other hand, when the decision is a difficult one, each parent may welcome the other's input. Communication is key in effectively sharing legal custody.
Parents or a judge may decide whether there will be joint physical and legal custody. Parents might prefer to try to negotiate this issue, which is advisable since negotiations can be less adversarial than going to court. This can be a better situation for the children as well. However, a child custody arrangement and schedule that is created by a judge can still provide parents with an opportunity to build a good co-parenting relationship. Divorcing individuals can create a parenting plan that deals with any major concerns either person may have and also sets consistent ground rules for both their homes. If a child custody arrangement does not seem to be working, parents can ask the court for a modification.