One of the only certainties in life other than death and taxes is change. Your life changed in profound ways following your marriage and the birth of your children, but now another less welcome change could be on the horizon – divorce. While divorce will signal a shift in your lifestyle as a person, you are still a parent to your children.
Much of the fear and uncertainty surrounding divorce relates to parents fearing losing time with their kids or being shut out completely. With the right information and guidance, you can use legal resources to write a conservatorship plan that is in the best interests of your children.
Conservatorship in Texas
Texas recognizes two types of conservatorships: joint managing and sole managing. In a joint plan, both parents play an active role in managing their children’s lives while one parent takes the lead in a sole conservatorship.
The good news for parents who fear a diminishing role after divorce is that the state automatically assumes that a joint conservatorship should be written unless adverse circumstances would prevent one parent from acting in the best interests of their children (e.g., addiction, absenteeism). That is to say: if you’ve acted in good faith as a parent before divorce, the court assumes that you will do the same afterward.
As part of a joint conservatorship, you and your partner will compromise on how to manage your children’s lives including decisions of:
- Schooling, church attendance and extracurricular activities
- Consenting to medical care as necessary
- Child support payments
The details of these decisions can depend on many factors including:
- Age of your children
- Your lifestyle and work commitments after divorce
- Physical location
For example, when children are younger, they are more dependent, and parents can make decisions on conservatorship that fits those needs. However, just because one aspect of an agreement is that way immediately following divorce doesn’t mean that could change in the future as children grow older and more independent.
Even your lifestyle as a parent can change as time passes after your divorce. You could change jobs, get remarried or have children with another partner, all of which may justify a modification to your conservatorship.
Having mixed feelings of fear and uncertainty before divorce is natural. Change is inevitable, but your approach to a joint managing conservatorship with the best interests of your children in mind should not.