Child Custody

In Texas, lawyers rarely speak in terms of “custody.” Instead we use words like “conservatorship” and “primary parent,” and we talk about the rights and duties of divorcing parents. Those rights almost always include the right of access to medical and educational records, the right to attend school activities, and the right to consent to emergency treatment of the child.  During times of each parent’s possession, those rights also include the rights to direct the moral and religious training of the child, and the duty to discipline the child.

A court will begin with the presumption that it is going to appoint divorcing parents as Joint Managing Conservators.  However, if “the best interests of the child” (a rather vague standard) so dictate, the Court may instead appoint a parent as Sole Managing Conservator or Possessory (secondary) Conservator.

Keep these facts in mind:

  • The term “Joint Managing Conservators” means the parents will share significant decisions that affect a child (such as decisions about a child’s education, mental health, invasive medical care, etc.).  It does not mean that the parents will enjoy equal or nearly equal periods of physical possession of the child;
  • As Joint Managing Conservators, significant decisions may be exercised by each parent independently, by the joint agreement of the parents, or exclusively by one parent;
  • Some parents may choose to work with parenting coordinators, mental health professionals, or child specialists to develop the provisions related to rights and duties of parents.