Other than, perhaps, alimony, child custody is the most hotly contested issue in a divorce proceeding. And, the fear of losing custody can be a reason some in our state do not want to file for divorce, even though they are deeply unhappy in their marriage. However, what many may find is that once child custody is explained and demystified, it may not be as scary.
Child custody is conservatorship
First, if one has done any Google searches on Texas child custody law, they have likely discovered that our state calls child custody, conservatorship, and we call parent’s conservator, rather than custodians. Do not fret though, these terms still refer to a parent’s legal rights and responsibilities as they relate to their child (or children).
Who decides conservatorship?
Ideally, conservatorship will be decided by both parents that come to a mutual agreement and draft a custody plan that a family law judge enacts. However, if the parents cannot agree on a custody plan, the ultimate decision on child custody will be left up to a family law judge. This is why it can be so important for both parents to think about what is best for their child and put it in writing. After all, one does not want their life and children dictated by the whims of some third-party that does not know them or their family.
How does the family law judge decide conservatorship?
If a custody agreement is not agreed to, the family law judge will, primarily, decide conservatorship based on the best interests of the child. This can be a tricky issue that requires extensive litigation and outside experts
Joint managing conservatorship
There are two types of conservatorships in our state, joint managing conservatorship and sole managing conservatorship. Though, in Texas the JMC is the default arraignment, whereby both parents share in the duties and rights of being a parent. However, the family law judge can parse out which parent can make the ultimate decision on particular issues, like one parent can make education decisions and the other health decisions.
Sole managing conservatorship
In a SMC situation, the family law judge designates one parent as the decision maker. This includes where the child lives and all life decisions for the child. As our Texas readers throughout League City and in Harris, Galveston and Brazoria counties can see, Texas child custody can get complicated, which is why one should contact an attorney.