An increasing number of state lawmakers are examining their child custody laws in response to advocates of the concept that divorcing or separated parents should share equal “custody”.
Advocates of shared parenting arrangements view them as encouraging children to know both parents and for both parents to be actively involved and share responsibility in their children’s upbringing.
Nationally, the concept of shared parenting has also been referred to as “collaborative parenting”, “balanced parenting” or “equal shared parenting”, and can also apply after the separation of adoptive or other non-biological parents.
House Bill Number 2363 made it out of committee in the Texas Legislature on May 6, 2015, and could potentially become Texas law later this summer. Essentially, the bill proposes to change existing Texas Family Code Section 153.001(a) to make it the public policy of the state of Texas to encourage parents to share equally in the rights and duties of raising their child after the parents have separated or dissolved their marriage. It also proposes to amend Texas Family Code Section 153.134 to provide that if parents are appointed as joint managing conservators of a child, the court will enter a possession order that provides for equal parenting time for each parent unless the court determines that such an order is not in the child’s best interest, in which case the court may order a standard possession order as contained in the current Texas Family Code.
The bill further proposes several options for the court to consider in determining a possession order: Alternating weeks (“week on, week off); alternating two-week periods of possession, and even alternating months.
Several states have proposed similar bills to be voted on. In 2013, Arkansas passed a law that calls for the “approximate and reasonable equal division of time” of children between parents in divorce proceedings.
The text of House Bill 2363 can be found here: http://www.legis.state.tx.us/BillLookup/Text.aspx?LegSess=84R&Bill=HB2363