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Overview of Texas conservatorship

While most people are familiar with the term "child custody," Texas labels this "conservatorship" and calls parents "conservators" instead of "custodians." When a couple ends their marriage in the state, they should try to work out a custody plan. In the event that this is not possible, a judge will rule on conservatorship and will mainly consider the best interests of the child.

The state has two types of conservatorship or child custody: sole managing conservatorship and joint managing conservatorship. Conservatorship includes the right to obtain information about the education, well-being and health of the child. In addition, they are permitted access to information related to dental, medical, mental health and educational matters and to discuss their child's health and care with professionals, including school personnel. They also have the authority to give consent for medical treatment in case of an emergency.

The state generally assumes that both parents will be listed as JMC participants and will share rights and responsibilities. However, just one parent might be awarded custody, which could include specific decisions made by that parent. The judge outlines these responsibilities in court. In addition, even in JMC cases, the judge will rule on a visitation order. In cases of SMC, only one parent can make legal decisions about the child. The court might order SMC if the other parent does not want JMC or if they cannot handle the care of their child as in cases of domestic violence, substance abuse, negligence or if they are incarcerated.

If the court rules that only one parent will be afforded SMC, the other parent might want to fight that ruling. A family lawyer might help a client seek JMC especially if the connection with both parents is in the best interests of the child.

Source: Findlaw, "Child Custody in Texas", August 07, 2014

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