There are a lot of unique aspects of Texas family law, including how custody of the children is handled following a split between the parents. Custody is called “conservatorship,” and the right to make major decisions for a child is given to the child's managing conservator.
One of the most hard-fought issues parents usually have when they break up is whether there should be a sole managing conservator for their children or the authority should be joint. What's at stake? If a parent has sole managing conservatorship of their children, they alone have the right to:
- Decide the child's primary residence
- Control the child's medical and dental care
- Consent to psychiatric or psychological treatment for the child
- Be designated as the child's emergency contact
- Control decisions about the child's education
- The right to direct the child's religious upbringing
Most divorcing parents want sole managing conservatorship and simultaneously fear the idea that their ex-spouse will want the same. In reality, you are most likely to get joint managing conservatorship, giving you and your ex equal authority over the kids.
Why? Because the law presumes that it's generally in a child's best interests to have both parents involved in major decisions. You can rebut this presumption, however, if their other parent has some significant issues that affect their parenting abilities. For example, a history of drug abuse or alcoholism or a history of family violence on their part can sway the court to deny them an equal role. Similarly, if their other parent has shown an unwillingness or inability to work with you on parenting, that may also influence the court to grant you sole managing conservatorship.
If you're concerned about issues that affect your children's future, get help. Working with an experienced family law attorney early is wise.