Divorce And Family Law Attorney

What does the term “conservatorship” mean when you’re figuring out child custody issues during divorce in Texas?

The Texas Family Code does not use the term “custody” in describing a parent’s legal relationship with a child.  Instead, Texas law describes a parent’s legal relationship with a child as a “conservatorship.” The term “conservatorship” focuses the responsibilities, rights, benefits, and burdens of the parent-child relationship.  The parent’s responsibility is to “conserve and protect” a child, not merely to own a child as one would own a car or other inanimate object.

There are no such legal terms as “full custody,” “sole custody,” “joint custody,” “primary custody,” or any other type of “custody” over children under Texas law.

There are two types of conservatorships in Texas:  1) Possessory and 2) Managing.

Possessory conservators only have access to the child under a defined schedule, as well as the right to inherit and bequeath assets through the child.

Managing conservators have all the same rights normally associated with a parent.  Under managing conservatorships, the parent has the right to manage the affairs of the child as long as that child is a minor.  These decisions include financial welfare, schooling, medical care, religious upbringing, psychological and psychiatric care, employment, legal rights and representation, consent to marriage, and consent to Armed Forces enlistment.

Note:  There are two types of managing conservatorships—Sole and Joint.

Texas law presumes that both parents should be appointed joint managing conservators and there are limited grounds for rebutting that presumption

When the conservatorship is defined as Sole, one person holds all managing conservatorship rights and responsibilities.  In the cases where Joint managing conservatorship is granted, two (or more) persons share the rights and responsibilities of the managing conservatorship.

Most disputes involving children do not end with the designation of “joint managing conservatorship”.  In the state of Texas, one parent is granted the exclusive right to designate the primary residence of the children.

Texas law provides for the ability to restrict the Exclusive Right to Designate the Primary Residence to a specific geographical area.  However, the law does not automatically presume a geographical restriction.  A parent who wants a geographic restriction must justify why the court should impose a geographic restriction and this restriction must also be shown to be in the child’s best interest.

Geographic restrictions are often imposed with divorce decrees.  Although as time passes, and thus the circumstances for the family, either parent may apply to the court to alter the restrictions.  Again, the criteria for the court’s decision are always according to what is determined to be in the best interests of the children.

Call LaFour Law today at 713-369-5932. We will walk with you through this painful process and provide you with guidance, compassionate leadership and protection.