When two parents in Texas divorce, they may have many concerns. Divorce can be difficult for a child to process, and each parent may wonder how much time the person will get to spend with the child now that their marriage has ended. Sometimes parents need to turn to the court to make child custody decisions. If that is the case, it is important to understand what the laws regarding child custody in Texas are.
The term "child custody," is referred to per Texas law as a "conservatorship." There are two kinds of conservatorships in the state -- joint managing conservatorship and sole managing conservatorship.
In the state of Texas, courts will presume that each parent be granted JMC. This means each parent has the right to obtain information from the child's other parent and other sources regarding the child's health, schooling and general welfare, as well as the right to communicate with school officials regarding the child and the right to consent to the child receiving medical treatment in an emergency.
However, even in a JMC, one parent may be granted the sole ability to make certain decisions regarding the child. The "best interests of the child" standard will apply to any decisions the court makes. When both parents are awarded JMC, the court will lay out what duties each parent will share and what duties will be the responsibility of one parent only. Also, just because a court awards each parent JMC, this does not mean that the child will spend 50 percent of his or her time with each parent. That decision is made via a standard possession order.
On the other hand, in a SMC only one party is vested with the legal ability to make certain types of decisions with regards to the child. This includes where the child lives, the ability to consent to the child's medical care, being the child's primary emergency contact and the right to make educational decisions, among others. SMC may be awarded if there are concerns regarding the child's safety, drug or alcohol abuse or if the other parent is simply does not want JMC.
These terms may be confusing to those who are encountering them for the first time. Therefore, parents in Texas seeking a divorce may want to retain an attorney who can help explain how the law applies to their situation.
Source: FindLaw, "Child Custody in Texas," Accessed Nov. 21, 2016