When two parents can’t agree on basic decisions for their children, they can ask that a court decide instead. In Texas, the court’s primary concern is the best interests of the child. The court will decide what is in a child’s best interest in three primary areas:
- Decision-making rights (Conservatorship)
- Child support
Although most people are familiar with the concept of joint child custody, that does not exist under Texas law. Here, we have two basic forms of conservatorship: Joint Managing Conservatorship and Sole Managing Conservatorship
Joint Managing Conservatorship
This is the most common outcome in Texas. Under this arrangement, parents share the same decision-making rights and duties, with the exception that one parent is usually given the exclusive right to designate the child’s primary residence. In determining this, the court will consider multiple factors, including:
- the desires of the child
- the emotional and physical needs of the child now and in the future
- the emotional and physical danger (of one parent) to the child now and in the future
- the parental abilities of the individuals seeking custody
- the programs available to assist the parents
- the plans for the child by these individuals
- the stability of both parties’ homes acts or omissions of a parent which may indicate that the existing parent-child relationship is not a proper one, and
- any excuse for the acts or omissions of a parent.
The court will then put in place a visitation schedule that encourages frequent and continuing contact with both parents, as long as each parent can provide a stable and healthy environment for the child.
Sole Managing Conservatorship
This arrangement is very uncommon in Texas and is generally reserved for cases involving domestic violence, drug use, abandonment, child abuse and/or neglect. In this arrangement, only one parent is given decision-making rights while the other parent is given only visitation rights, which can even be supervised if the court feels that is necessary.
At RGP, it is our goal to avoid unnecessary fights, while protecting the well-being of your children and your right to be an involved parent. We will help you to develop a child custody plan that best suits the needs of your child and your family.