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What Texas law has to say about child custody - II

Last time, we started examining a very important area of divorce that many people understandably have many questions or concerns about: child custody. In today's post, we'll continue to take an in-depth look at this topic as a means of providing some much-needed answers and clarity for divorcing parents here in Texas.

Joint managing conservatorship

As we discussed last time, the legal presumption is that the best interests of the child are satisfied through what is known as a joint managing conservatorship, meaning both parents sharing legal obligations and rights concerning their child.

It's important to understand, however, that even in these situations, the court will typically appoint one parent to serve as the "primary joint managing conservator." This is essentially the same as being a custodial parent, meaning this parent will have the responsibility of establishing the location of the child's primary residence within geographical boundaries predetermined by the court.

The non-custodial parent, otherwise referred to as the "possessory conservator" under Texas law, is given the right to possession of the child (i.e., visitation) at certain designated times.

It's important to remember that this issue of primary residence is really the only major difference between being a primary joint managing conservator and a possessory conservator, and that possessory conservator enjoys largely the same obligations and rights.

These include:

  • The right to hear information about the child's welfare, health and education from the other parent.
  • The right to speak about with the other parent (if possible) prior to decisions being made about the child's welfare, health and education.
  • The right to speak with the child's physicians and consent to emergency medical treatment.
  • The right to access the child's school records, talk with school officials and attend school-related activities.
  • The right to be appointed as an emergency contact by the child.

We'll continue to explore this topic in future posts, including what it means to be appointed as a sole managing conservator.

Source: Texas Young Lawyers Association, "What to expect in Texas family law court," Accessed Oct. 30, 2014 

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