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Joint and sole conservatorship in Texas custody law

The end of a marriage is always a difficult event to face. It involves high emotion and puts every piece of shared property in question. But the greatest victims of the process are often children, who have no say in the proceedings and may not understand what is happening.

The word "conservator" highlights the rights and responsibilities of a parent under Texas law, instead of "custodian," so custody is called "conservatorship." The types of conservatorship are joint managing conservatorship and sole managing conservatorship.

Parents share rights and duties under joint conservatorship, although specifics may be put in the control or responsibility of one parent if the judge believes it best for the child.

Joint conservatorship may be complicated because visitation rights among other details must be shared equally. A standard possession order is a separate related judgment that sets the specifics of this arrangement.

Sole conservatorship grants all rights and duties to one parent. This often includes deciding the child's residence, consenting to health care, requiring child support and making decisions about school activities.

Sole conservatorship is more often granted when one parent has been demonstrated to be violent, dangerous, abusive or derelict in responsibilities. An extreme difference between parents on the child's upbringing may also result in a sole conservatorship.

A family law judge will prescribe a conservatorship plan while the parents go through the divorce process. The judge's main concern is the welfare of the child or children.

Child support is most often paid by the parent not responsible for the child's residence. However, child support laws in Texas can be complex. An experienced lawyer with knowledge of family law and parental rights can help parents determine their best actions for their children during a divorce.

Source: FindLaw, "Child Custody in Texas," accessed July 19, 2017

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