The basics of child custody in Texas

On Behalf of | Jul 13, 2023 | Child Custody

Unlike other states, the legal term for child custody in Texas is conservatorship. Conservatorship is the legal right of a parent to decide for the child and to have their child live in their residence for a scheduled period (physical custody).

The type of conservatorship the court awards a parent will determine the extent of their parental rights and obligations. Navigating through child custody amid a divorce can be challenging. It might be best to understand the fundamentals of conservatorship before deciding how to go through the process.

Below are the three primary kinds of conservatorship in Texas and a brief explanation.

Joint managing conservatorship

Joint managing conservatorship (JMC) is a legal arrangement where both parents share the rights and duties over their child’s life. They both have a say in the essential decisions that affect their child, including the following:

  • Education
  • Health care
  • Religion

Both parents are responsible for the overall care and upbringing of the child. JMC is the most popular because it allows parents to remain active in their child’s life, even though the court usually appoints one parent as the custodial parent. The custodial parent will determine where the child resides predominantly. The court may also request a possession order detailing how the parents plan to share physical custody.

Sole managing conservatorship

The court may also appoint only one managing conservator if there is a legitimate reason that the other parent is unfit. The parent with sole managing conservatorship (SMC) would have the exclusive rights and responsibilities described above. They would also have the right to receive child support from the parent who does not have managing conservatorship.

Possessory conservatorship

When one parent receives SMC, the other parent can still have visitation rights in the form of possessory conservatorship. The possessory conservator can still have access to information regarding the child but may not have any authority over managing the child’s life.

You and your spouse are separating but do not want that to affect your child adversely. As much as possible, you want your child to feel like nothing has changed. The goal of choosing the right form of conservatorship is to prioritize the child’s best interests and to make them feel safe and secure.

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