Questions about Child Custody or Conservatorship?

Our Lewisville Lawyers Have Answers

Photo of a child custody agreementOur child custody lawyers are well versed in the laws that deal with conservatorship and child custody. If you have questions about how Texas custody laws could affect your family, ask our Lewisville attorneys about your rights.

What does child custody mean in Texas?

Custody is referred to as “conservatorship” under the Texas Family Code. Conservatorship will define the rights and duties that each conservator will have with regard to the child(ren), designate the how certain decisions will be made and by who, as well as the responsibilities of each conservator with regard to the child.

Conservatorship is not the same as possession, access or visitation.

What are the different types of conservators?

Under the Texas Family Code, it is presumed that it is in the best interest of the child(ren) that the biological parents be appointed “joint managing conservators” (often referred to as “JMCs”). However, if one parent can overcome that rebuttable presumption, then that parent may be appointed a sole managing conservator. If a party is appointed the sole managing conservator, the other parent will be called the possessory conservator.

Who has the right to determine where the children will live if the parents are named Joint Managing Conservators?

If the parents are JMCs, then one of the parents will be designated as the “primary.” The primary joint managing conservator will have the exclusive right to designate the primary residence of the child(ren). The primary will usually also have the exclusive right to receive child support.

What are the rights of the parents as conservators?

A sole managing conservator would have the following exclusive rights (other rights and duties are not listed here that are the same for either case). For joint managing conservators, rights may be allocated as exclusive to one of the conservators or by agreement, or as independent rights available to both conservators. This includes your right as a parent to make decisions regarding the child’s:

  • Medical treatments or surgeries
  • Legal representation
  • Marriage
  • Enlistment
  • Education
  • Employment
  • Estate

What is standard possession for the non-primary conservator?

The Texas Family Code provides us with a Standard Possession Order or (“SPO”). The SPO provides for periods of possession with the child(ren) during weekends, holidays, spring breaks and summer vacations. The SPO is split with regard to whether the parents reside within 100 miles of each other or the parents reside more than 100 miles apart.

Can the court consider the child’s preference of whom they want to live with primarily?

Yes. Once a child has reached the age of 12, the child can sign an affidavit of preference stating with which conservator the child would rather primarily live with. The affidavit does not, however, guarantee that the court will designate the primary conservator based solely on the child’s preference. However, courts generally will give the child’s preference some consideration. The judge can and will overrule the child’s preference if the judge believes it is not in the child’s best interest.

What are some of the important issues considered by the court when deciding conservatorship cases?

The answer to this question boils down to five words “best interest of the child”. In making a decision as to what is in the best interest of the child, the court will consider many issues, including, but not limited to:

  • Family violence of any kind
  • Sexual abuse of any kind
  • Drug abuse
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Parental alienation of one parent by another including denial of child visitation;
    discussing the litigation with the child
  • Child abuse, neglect and/or endangerment
  • Living conditions
  • Overall well-being of the child, including the child’s family, school, grades, friends and extracurricular activities

If you still have questions about child custody, conservatorship or visitation rights, do not hesitate to contact our child custody attorneys. Call (972) 315-6222 or submit a contact form to schedule a consultation. Our office is in Lewisville, and we represent clients throughout the Dallas metroplex.