Frequently, when people come into my Round Rock office, they ask, “What will it take to get full custody?” The general rule in Texas is that the parties should be joint managing conservators, and public policy is that both parents should have frequent contact with the children. In order to understand what the above statement means to your family, we need to analyze the state laws in a little more detail.
Joint Managing Conservatorship
Joint managing conservatorship does not refer to having joint custody. Joint managing conservatorship refers to the rights and duties of the parties in relation to the children. These rights include:
- The right to consent to medical, dental and surgical treatment involving invasive procedures
- The right to consent to psychiatric and psychological treatment
- The right to represent the child in legal action and to make other decisions of substantial legal significance concerning the child
These are just a few of the rights that joint managing conservators could share. Although generally, joint managing conservators share most rights, there are some rights that are generally exclusive to one party, including:
- The right to designate the primary residence of the child
- The right to receive and give receipts for periodic payments for the support of the child and to hold or disburse these funds for the benefit of the child
These rights stated above could be independent of one or both parents, exclusive to one parent or shared by agreement between both parents. Parties tend to believe that child custody is all or nothing. Child custody is typically shared and can be customized to fit the family’s needs.
Possession Or Visitation Vs. Conservatorship
Possession and access or visitation are different from conservatorship. People generally use these terms interchangeably, but they do not have the same meaning. Possession refers to actual care, custody and control, while access only refers to having access to the child for visitation.
In Texas, the Family Code has established a standard possession order that is intended to guide the courts when ordering terms and conditions as a minimum possession for a joint managing conservator.
The Texas Family Code goes on to state that it is the policy of the state of Texas to encourage frequent contact between children and parents for periods of possession. The purpose of this is to optimize the development of a close and continuing relationship between each parent and child. The state of Texas also encourages all children to be present together during these periods of visitation.
Exceptions To The Standard Possession Order
There are situations where the standard possession order is inappropriate or unworkable. This situation arises when the work schedule or other special circumstances of the parties or the child make the standard order unworkable or inappropriate.
There are many child custody possession schedules that can be discussed with an experienced child custody lawyer. The child possession schedule or parenting plan can be drafted to meet the requirements of your family.
As discussed above, the presumption is that joint managing conservatorship is in the best interest of the child. This is a rebuttable presumption, meaning that evidence can be presented that the parties should not share the rights and duties. There are situations where a sole managing conservatorship would be more appropriate in a child custody case, such as when a parent has a drug or alcohol problem or has been arrested for assault or family violence.
Do You Have Questions About Child Custody?
Call me at 512-920-5080 to schedule a consultation at The Law Office of Clifford Alan Swayze in Round Rock.