As we have observed in a previous post, legal terms that may be commonly understood in other states can be slightly different in Texas. What is usually referred to as child custody is known as conservatorship in the Lone Star state.
While the names might change from state to state, the underlying legal objectives tend to remain the same. Courts are supposed to seek and find solutions that serve the best interests of the children in custody situations. At the same time, the rights and capabilities of the parents need to be taken into consideration.
In this post we want to try to provide a bit of a deeper look at the types of child custody -- remembering that in Texas they are referred to as conservatorships.
Joint Managing Conservatorship
This form of guardianship tends to be the default position. The assumption is that both parents should share in the rights and obligations of their respective roles. This does not mean, necessarily, that both parents have equal say in all decisions about the child's life. Nor does it necessarily mean that each parent will have equal access to or possession of a child. Parents should expect the court to specify their separate and joint responsibilities. Look for visitation details to be spelled out in a standard possession order.
Sole Managing Conservatorship
SMC is something that might be employed if one parent doesn't want or is deemed unfit for joint managing conservatorship. One parent typically has the legal power to decide matters related to the child's welfare under an SMC. This might include deciding the child's primary residence, his or her health care needs or choice of school. An SMC also might include a provision for receipt of child support.
With Texas law around child custody and visitation issues being as complex as it is, it becomes clear why the most common bit of advice you are likely to hear when such questions come up is, consult with an experienced attorney.