Child custody laws in Texas are a little different than in many other states. If you’re approaching a divorce and you have children, it’s helpful to understand the language — and the law — before you go into court.
This is what you should know:
Custody is called a child conservatorship
Texas uses the somewhat unique term “conservatorship” when discussing child custody. A parent can ask for either joint or sole conservatorship, just like he or she could ask for joint or sole custody.
A conservator has specific rights
If you and your spouse are awarded joint conservatorship, you’ll both have the same rights. This includes equal access to information about the child’s education and health and the right to be included on any decisions or discussions regarding those subjects. A parent with sole conservatorship doesn’t have to involve the other parent in those decisions.
The state presumes both parents should be conservators
It’s generally presumed that both parents should be involved in a child’s upbringing and any major decisions about that child — just as if the parents were still married.
That means it’s important to be realistic about your requests to the court. They won’t grant sole conservatorship simply for the sake of convenience. If you’re seeking sole conservatorship, you need to present the judge with a good reason. That could include something like the other parent’s drug or alcohol abuse, a history of abandonment or some serious conflict between the parents (such as one parent adhering to extreme medical views that forbid life-saving medical care) that can’t be resolved any other way.
Joint conservatorship does not confer joint physical custody or child support
This is something that tends to confuse a lot of parents, but joint conservatorship only refers to a parent’s authority over the child’s welfare, not actual physical custody of the child. Custody is an entirely separate decision — and so is any support as a result of that custody decision.
Source: FindLaw, “Child Custody in Texas,” accessed Feb. 13, 2018