How Does Child Custody Work in Texas?

Divorcing parents usually share the same primary concern about their situation: Who will get custody of their children after the divorce?

Texas law is somewhat unique in that custody is called “conservatorship,” and there’s more than one kind.

The difference between managing and possessory conservatorship

Possessory conservatorship is basically what other states refer to as “custody.” The possession and access each parent has to their child following a divorce can determine where the child lives. In turn, that may have an effect on how much child support one parent pays the other.

Managing conservatorship, on the other hand, is the right of each parent to make important decisions on their child’s behalf and have access to critical information about their child’s life.

Managing conservatorship includes privileges like the right to access the child’s school or medical records. It includes the right to consent to medical care, dental work, psychological treatment and other health care services. It also includes the right to make decisions like signing the child up for camp and enrolling them in special education programs and extracurricular activities.

How is conservatorship divided between divorced parents?

Generally, the law doesn’t favor one parent over the other in any way. The presumption is always that both parents want the best for their children. Ideally, both parents should have roughly equal control over their children’s lives and the same amount of parenting time.

The courts are obliged, however, to make decisions in the best interests of the children. That leaves the door open for one or both parents to rebut the presumption that all things should be equal.

Parents should try to work out an agreement regarding issues of custody and support — but it’s never wise to try to do it on your own. An attorney can protect your rights and make sure that the process is fair. They can also defend your interests if the other party decides to challenge your parenting abilities.

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