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Can parents determine their own custody arrangements?

When parents choose to raise a child separately, it is rarely easy to figure out how each parent will share the responsibilities and privileges of parenting. If the couple never marries, they may work out an informal arrangement between themselves to determine how to share parenting time (although this is typically unwise), but if the couple divorces, they must reach a custody agreement approved by a Texas court. If they cannot reach an agreement, the court will determine this arrangement for them.

Of course, courts rarely have the insight and understanding necessary to make the best decisions for both the parents and the child. It is almost always better for parents to work out a fair agreement together. For the most part, courts prefer to give parents the opportunity to build their own custody arrangements before stepping in and handing down a legally binding custody order.

While parents do usually get the opportunity to determine their own custody terms, a court must agree that these terms are fair, and most importantly, that they put the interests of the child first. If parents reach a custody arrangement that they prefer, but a court believes that it is not in the best interests of the child, it may not accept the arrangement, or may modify it before making it official.

It is important to understand your rights as a parent, especially when it comes to time with your child. Before you devise a custody arrangement with your child's other parent, use the legal resources and guidance that you have available to ensure you have a strong legal strategy. That enables you to protect your rights and to give your child the best life that you can.

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