The parent-child relationship is important and crucial, so we understand how vital it is for you to have quality time and active involvement with your children. The Texas Family Code refers to child custody as "conservatorship."
There are three types of conservatorship in the state of Texas:
- Joint Managing Conservator,
- Sole Managing Conservator, and;
- Possessory Conservator.
Conservatorship in Texas
What is conservatorship?
This is the part of parenting that involves making decisions on behalf of the child, such as schooling, medical care, and other decisions. In some cases, one parent will have sole conservatorship, meaning they are legally entitled to make all of the decisions for the child. In other situations, the parents will have joint conservatorship, meaning the decisions are made by both parents.
Joint Managing Conservatorship
Joint managing conservatorship is ordered when the court finds both parents should be involved in a child’s life. A joint parenting plan will be drafted and entered to establish which parent the child spends time with and at what time(s).
Sole Managing Conservatorship
The court can also order sole managing conservatorship to one parent, but the other parent can be granted possessory conservatorship allowing them visitation rights with their child.
In Texas, however, state family law presumes parents will share custody of their children as joint managing conservators. Unless it can be shown shared custody will endanger a child’s physical or emotional health, courts prefer shared custody arrangements that encourage frequent and continuing contact between children and both of their parents. In an effort to encourage equal parenting time, the Texas state legislature created visitation guidelines. While parents are not required to follow these guidelines, judges consider them when determining custody and visitation schedules, and when deciding whether to approve a proposed custody and visitation plan.
Furthermore, legal custody entitles a parent to make large decisions considering the child’s well being and future, including decisions concerning religion, education, and other important factors. Physical custody determines where the child will live, and this parent will make decisions concerning everyday life.
How is Child Custody decided in Texas Courts?
Many factors are taken into consideration when child custody decisions are made in court, such as:
- The child or children’s physical and emotional needs
- The child or children’s physical and emotional situation
- The stability of the home
- The parent’s plans for the child or children
- The level of cooperation between parents
- Parenting skills
- The child’s primary caregiver
- Geographic proximity
- Keeping siblings together
Can children choose which parent they want to live with?
If the child is 12 years old or older, they are legally entitled to express a preference, but there is no guarantee the court will take it into account. A child’s preference will not be the sole basis of a child custody decision. A court will consider a variety of factors when determining custody arrangements.
When is child support required and who pays it?
The court can order child support to be paid to one parent or the other in certain circumstances. Child support is most often paid to the parent who has custody of the child the majority of the time. If custody is split equally, there may not be any child support required. The court will rule based on what is best for the child(ren).
Can one parent refuse to allow visitation because of unpaid child support?
No. Child support and visitation are separate according to Texas law. Regardless of whether or not a parent makes their child support payments, they still have a right to visitation. The issue of unpaid child support can and should be addressed in court. Contact a family law lawyer if you are not receiving the child support you are owed.
How can changes be made to the current custody agreement?
If you want to make changes to your custody agreement, you will need to file a petition to modify it in the same court that has handled your case from the outset. Your attorney can help you with this process. If you and the other parent agree on the changes, it will likely be a faster process than if you are not in agreement.
Will my child(ren) need to appear in court for a custody trial?
In most cases, children are not required to be physically present in court for a custody trial. There are just a few circumstances where a child would need to appear in court and often this does not happen in open court, but in the judge’s chambers in private so as to be less traumatic for the minor child.
What are temporary orders?
Unlike some states, Texas does not have a legal concept of separation and therefore parties cannot use separation agreements. The state of Texas refers to agreements that will remain in place while a divorce or other family court proceeding is pending as temporary orders, which can dictate temporary custody arrangements until a final custody determination occurs as a part of the final divorce decree or in a Suit Affecting Parent-Child Relationship (SAPCR).
Have more questions about child custody?
Contact the Pearland Child Custody Attorneys at Terry and Roberts Today
Texas child custody cases can be complicated and require legal assistance. While deciding legal conservatorship, the court takes many factors into consideration, and then finds the best possible solution. Our experienced Pearland child custody attorneys will answer all of your child custody, custodianship, and conservatorship related questions as part of our work together.