Understanding Child Custody

Single father and sons

If you have recently gone through a breakup involving children, you may soon find yourself navigating the child custody process. Dealing with a divorce or a split is difficult enough already without the added stress of kids involved.

Child custody cases can be complex, but the Texas family lawyers at Law Offices Of Mark M. Childress want to guide you through the process with ease. Below, we’ll explain Texas’ child custody laws and what you need to know to be prepared for your case.

Conservatorship in Texas

Child custody laws look slightly different here in Texas. Child custody is known as “conservatorship,” the legal rights and responsibilities of a parent. You may have heard of the term “custodial parent,” but the courts here refer to a child’s parent as a “conservator.”

Conservatorship includes the right to:

  • Get information from the other parent of the child about the health, education, and welfare of the child;

  • Have access to medical, dental, psychological, and educational records of the child;

  • Talk to a physician, dentist, or psychologist about the child;

  • Talk to school officials concerning the child's welfare and educational status, including school activities; and

  • Consent to medical, dental, and surgical treatment during an emergency involves an immediate danger to the child's health and safety.

Types of Child Conservatorships

There are two primary types of conservatorships. Under Texas law, the courts will presume for joint managing conservators; however, the child's best interest is the main deciding factor.

Joint managing conservatorship

As its name suggests, a joint conservatorship order means that both parents share decision-making authority about issues. This may include making decisions for the child’s schooling and medical choices, among many other things. This is typically called legal custody in other states. In most joint conservatorship orders, the child will live with one parent, and the other parent will enjoy visitation while still sharing decision-making.

The law states that parents should not be named joint managing conservators if there is a history or pattern of violence by one parent against the other parent.

Sole managing conservatorship

Sometimes, courts award sole managing conservatorship, meaning one parent has the legal right to make decisions regarding the child. Reasons a judge might name a parent sole managing conservator include:

  • One parent doesn’t want joint managing conservatorship

  • The other parent has a history of family violence or neglect;

  • The other parent has a history of alcohol or drug abuse;

  • The other parent has been absent from the child's life;

Possession and Access

In Texas, visitation is called possession and access. A judge will create a visitation schedule, known as the standard possession order, which the parents can agree upon. The parent with physical custody is called the “possessory conservator,” and the child will reside with that parent. Typically, the non-custodial parent will exercise visitation on alternating weekends or every other weekend.

Child Support

Child support payments are dependent on what the court determines to be in the child's best interests, like most other child custody issues. A court may consider evidence from a wide array of factors including:

  • Physical and emotional needs of the child

  • Stability of the home

  • Cooperation between the parents

  • Who is the child’s primary caregiver

  • Geographic proximity of the children

  • The child’s preferences if he or she is 12 years of age or older

Contact a Fort Worth Child Custody Lawyer

Each child custody case is unique, and the laws can sometimes get complicated. It’s a smart idea to consult a child custody attorney to answer questions about your specific situation. At Law Offices Of Mark M. Childress, we’ll identify your goals as a parent as well as the needs of your child to make sure that a favorable outcome can be reached.

Contact Law Offices Of Mark M. Childress at (817) 497-8148 to get started on a free consultation with one of our divorce attorneys today.

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