When parents get divorced, the custody of the children is usually their primary concern. Texas has some unique terminology regarding custody and its own way of addressing the major issues that tend to arise.
Understanding more about the terminology and rules used in Texas custody cases can help demystify the entire process.
Texas uses the term “conservatorship” instead of “custody”
The correct term for child custody in this state is “conservatorship,” which is broken down into two parts:
- Managing conservator
- Possessory conservator
Possessory conservatorship controls the access and visitation to the child, but that's generally divided as fairly as possible for the given family situation.
Managing conservatorship is usually the most fought-over issue, because it can be granted solely to one parent or jointly to both. Managing conservatorship gives parents the right to decide a child's primary residence and many other things, including the right to:
- Consent to medical treatment
- Access a child's medical records
- Manage a child's education
- Make most major decisions about the child's future and well-being
Typically, the courts usually believe that it's in the best interests of the child to award managing conservatorship to both parents. This generally preserves the “status quo” in the parent-child relationship and tends to help nurture those valuable connections.
Your co-parent may challenge your right to managing conservatorship, however, if you have serious conflicts over medical issues, religion or education. They may also challenge your rights if you have a history of mental illness, alcoholism, drug addiction, domestic abuse or other legal problems.
Take early steps to preserve your parental rights in a divorce
If you're facing a potentially contentious child custody issue, the best thing you can do is seek early guidance. A consultation with an attorney can help you begin to make plans.