Family law in Texas does not employ the common term known as custody when talking about a parent-child relationship especially when divorce is involved. Although a child custody attorney does speak in terms of the more commonly used term of custody, the more accurate word is conservatorship.
This concept focuses more on the benefits, responsibilities, and burdens involved in the relationship of a child and parent rather than the more possessive term of custody. As long as the differences between the two are understood, usage of the term of child custody is more likely to remain the more common term.
Conservatorship – Types
Using the more legal term of conservatorship, a child custody attorney advises that in Texas there are two different types: managing and possessory. Both parents must still provide support to a child in the form of somewhere to live, food, clothes, schooling as well as medical and dental care and treatment.
Managing – This is the most common type of parental role and provides the parent given this title the right to ‘manage’ the affairs of a minor child as well as the clear right of possession as well. Many decisions are managed here: medical care, financial welfare, schooling, extracurricular activities, legal rights, behavior, and psychological care – in other words, basic parental decisions.
Possessory – This form of conservatorship allows for access to the child (think visitation here), usually based on an agreed-upon schedule with the managing conservator.
Conservatorship – Managing Types
Within the overall term of managing conservatorship are two types: sole and joint.
Sole – This is the designation when only one parent or person has all of the rights and duties of a managing conservator.
Joint – With this designation, two or more parents or people share all of the many rights and privileges of a managing conservator.
It is a basic premise in Texas that both parents should have joint managing conservatorship – anything else must be very clearly explained with supporting evidence in order for joint handling to not be the ruling given. Of course, if there is any risk of harm to the involved child, the decision for sole versus joint can be easier for the courts to determine. Again as mentioned earlier, the focus is on the rights and duties of both parents to have a good relationship with any minor children as opposed to which parent exercises a custodial right.
Conservatorship – Primary Residence Designation
According to a child custody attorney, one of the most hotly sought-after rights with minor children when divorce is involved is to be able to determine where the child will live. Contrary to what might be thought, having joint managing conservatorship does not mean having equal time with the child. Most often, the court assigns one parent with the right to designate where the child will primarily live – which doesn’t exclude the other parent at all in most cases. In reality, a parent who does not provide the primary residence of a child often has more quality time with the child than before the divorce happened.
Conservatorship – Geographical Restrictions
In Texas, it is possible to restrict the geographical area in which a child can live although in order for the courts to consider such a restriction, valid reasoning must be presented as to why that should happen. Restrictions could be within state, region, county, city, or even school district. It all must again be in the best interests of the child to be imposed and in most cases, can be changed if both parents are in agreement.
Conservatorship – Agreed Parenting
The most important term here – indeed the driving force according to a child custody attorney – is that both parents jointly agree on parental duties and rights. It falls under a term heard more often now of agreed (or joint) parenting. The focus remains on the needs of the child, not the perceived wants of the parent.
Best interests of the child is what a child custody attorney stresses should be the focus of parents who must also manage care and conservatorship of minor children when divorcing. In spite of the high profile cases that are presented in the media, most parents who work along with their child custody attorney are truly interested in their children and want them to be taken care of in as good a fashion as possible with the least amount of disruption to their lives.
Reynaldo G. Garza, III
680 E. St Charles, Suite 600
Brownsville TX 78520