Divorce is arguably one of the most complicated areas of the law to navigate, but it becomes even more complicated when a child is involved. That is because the court must now determine what is in the child’s best interest as well as balancing the needs and desires of each parent. On top of this, just as the process of getting a divorce varies from state to state, so do the laws regarding child custody. Child custody is especially difficult to understand in Texas because of how differently they handle the subject.
Let’s explore some of the differences that make child custody tricky in Texas and how the process is handled by the courts.
In Texas, child custody is referred to as conservatorship. There are two main types of conservatorship in Texas: sole managing conservatorship and joint managing conservatorship. Sole managing conservatorship roughly equates to sole custody as it functions in other states. The parent with sole managing conservatorship has the exclusive right to make important decisions regarding the child’es upbringing. This includes all medical, educational, and religious choices.
This kind of conservatorship is given to a parent when the other parent is unable to provide a safe and stable environment, has severe financial burdens, or has shown a history of domestic abuse. Joint managing conservatorship is similar to joint custody. Under joint managing conservatorship, both parents share the rights and responsibilities of raising the child. However, the child might live primarily with one parent (known as the “custodial” parent) while the other parent (the noncustodial parent) is typically given visitation rights.
Texas courts function with the presumption that joint managing conservatorship is in the best interest of the child unless evidence is presented to the contrary. This means that the courts generally prefer to ensure both parents are involved in the child’s life to some extent, even if one parent holds primary physical custody. Because family law can be complex, it’s recommended to consult with Williamson county family law attorneys in Texas to fully understand your rights and responsibilities in your specific situation.
Possession and Access
In addition to conservatorship, Texas also addresses “possession and access,” which pertains to the visitation schedule for the noncustodial parent. Texas has a standard possession order that provides a default visitation schedule. However, parents can agree to a different schedule or the court might order a different arrangement if it’s in the child’s best interest. In some cases, the child’s preference for a particular schedule may be considered if the child is mature enough to express a reasonable preference.
If parents can come to an agreement on custody and visitation arrangements, the court is likely to approve it as long as it’s deemed to be in the best interest of the child. If parents can’t agree, the court will make a decision based on the evidence presented during a custody hearing.
Quick Tips to Win Conservatorship in Texas
Winning conservatorship during a divorce involves demonstrating that you are able to provide a stable, loving, and nurturing environment for your children. While the process varies depending on your specific circumstances, here are four general tips that might help you in your quest for custody:
1. Prioritize the Child’s Best Interests:
Courts typically base custody decisions on the best interests of the child. Focus on what is best for your child’s physical, emotional, and psychological well-being rather than your own desires. Be prepared to show that you can provide a stable home, support their education, and promote their overall development.
2. Maintain a Strong Parent-Child Relationship:
Demonstrate your commitment to your child’s upbringing by maintaining a strong and positive relationship. Spend quality time with them, engage in their interests, attend school and extracurricular activities, and show that you are actively involved in their daily life.
3. Cooperate with Your Ex-Spouse:
As previously mentioned, all courts in Texas function on the presumption that joint managing conservatorship is generally in the child’s best interest. Courts appreciate parents who can work together for the sake of their children. Display your willingness to cooperate with your ex-spouse in matters related to custody, visitation, and decision-making. Being able to communicate effectively and show flexibility can positively impact your case.