Whether you are married to the person you had children with or not, if you decide to split up, you will have to determine your child’s custody. Even if you decide to work out your arrangement out of court, it can get complicated. Establishing a court order with the other parent of your child will ensure the child’s best interest. An expert family lawyer can explain what rights and options you have when it comes to the custody of your children.
Duties and Rights of a Conservator
Child custody is legally known as a conservatorship in Texas. There are three types of conservators: joint managing conservator, sole managing conservator, and possessory conservator. Courts presume that both parents will be joint managing conservators, meaning both parents share decision making for the child; however, the time spent between each parent may not be equal.
Parents appointed as a conservator have the rights to:
Access to the child’s medical, dental, psychological, and educational records
Receive information from another conservator concerning the child’s health, education, and welfare
Talk with the other parent to the extent possible before making decisions about the child’s health, education, and welfare
Consult with the child’s doctor, dentist, or psychologist
Consult with school officials about the child’s welfare and educational status
Be the child’s designated emergency contact on records
Attend school activities
Consent to the child’s medical, dental, and surgical treatment during an emergency
Manage the child’s estate
If it is in the best interest of the child, a judge may name one parent as the sole managing conservator. They will have the exclusive right to make most decisions regarding the child including the child’s primary residence, consent to any medical or psychiatric treatments, represent the child in legal action, consent to marriage or enlistment in the military, decisions about the child’s education, services and earnings of the child, and manage the child’s estate. Additionally, they will receive child support from the other parent.
If there is a sole managing conservator, a court will name the other parent as the possessory conservator. They will still have rights as a parent, but they will be limited.
How Courts Determine Child Custody
The primary consideration of the court is the best interest of the child when determining custody and access to the child. The best interest of the child can be that the child has frequent and continuing contact with parents who have shown to have the child’s best interest; provide a safe, stable, and nonviolent environment for the child; and encourage parents to share the rights and duties of raising their child after the parents have separated or divorced.
Courts consider the following factors when deciding custody:
The parenting abilities of each parent
If there is evidence of abuse or neglect
The physical health of each parent
The child’s preferences
The parent's ability to provide for the child
The child’s needs
When a custody order is issued, it will usually include a standard possession order (SPO) that schedules each parent’s time with the child. The SPO includes where the parents will meet to exchange the child and where the child will spend holidays. For parents who live 100 miles apart, there are special rules in the SPO. Basic SPOs allow the noncustodial parent to have possession of the child for a few hours every Thursday night; spend the first, third, and fifth weekends of each month with the child; alternate which holidays they will spend with the child; and spend one month in the summer with the child.
Parents can create a customized schedule as long as both parents agree to it, but courts will not enforce it. In these situations, it's essential to stay cooperative with the other parent. When parents don't stick with the schedule they create, it can start to affect the child's time with the other parent. If the other parent continues to not follow the schedule, it would be in the best interest of your child and yourself to get an SPO since courts can enforce it.
Your family’s future should be your primary concern when you decide on an attorney. A family lawyer can give you legal advice, review your forms, draft documents, and help you prepare for your hearing. An experienced child custody lawyer will guide you in this process. When it comes to your children, you want to have the best possible chance of getting custody. Parchman Law Group will fight for you and your rights.
Call Parchman Law Group today at (713) 364-0777 for help with getting custody of your child!