In Texas, the term “conservatorship” is used in place of custody.
Conservatorship describes the rights and responsibilities that parents
have in regard to raising their children; in many other states, conservatorship
is called legal custody.
Conservatorship does not have to do with the amount of time that each parent
will have with the child, instead it addresses the legal rights and duties
of the parents. Such rights and responsibilities include the right to
make decisions about the child’s education, medical treatment, and
Texas has two types of conservatorship: (1) sole managing conservatorship,
and (2) joint managing conservatorship. The presumption is that in the
absence of family violence, it is in a child’s best interests to
order joint managing conservatorship. The court, however, will examine
the facts of the case when deciding if joint managing conservatorship
is appropriate for the family.
All factors surrounding the child’s life will be considered, including:
- A history of child abuse
- A history of spousal abuse
- Criminal activity
- Drug or alcohol abuse
If the court finds credible evidence of a pattern of domestic violence,
the court is not allowed to appoint the parent who committed such violence
as a joint managing conservator, and the court cannot order that parent
as a sole managing conservator.
When is sole managing conservatorship ordered?
In rare circumstances (e.g. cases involving a history of family violence
or substance abuse, or where the other parent has been absent from the
child’s life), one parent may be appointed as the sole managing
In this scenario, that parent has superior rights in raising the child,
meaning the SMC would have the sole right to decide where the child will
live, to consent to medical treatment, and the right to make decisions
about the child’s education. The SMC also maintains the right to
The Primary Joint Managing Conservator
When parents are appointed as joint managing conservators (JMCs), the parents
usually share in parental duties, however, the court will designate one
parent who will be responsible for establishing the location of the child’s
primary residence. This parent is called the primary joint managing conservator,
otherwise known as the “custodial parent.” The other parent
is the “possessory conservator,” or the noncustodial parent.
Possession and Access (Visitation)
In Texas, visitation is called
possession and access. The parent who gets visitation is the parent that the child does not live
with most of the time. There are several types of visitation in Texas:
- Standard possession order
- Modified possession order
- Modified under three possession order
- Supervised possession order
The courts, however, usually allow the parties to work out an arrangement
between themselves that they believe is best for their child.
This summarizes the different types of custody in Texas. If you are interested
in learning more about your parental rights and responsibilities, or if
you would like to learn more about the different types of visitation,
I encourage you to
contact my firm, Dennis M. Slate, Attorney at Law. I would be glad to answer your questions
and give you the legal advice you need to effectively address your situation
in Pearland, TX.