Joint Managing Conservators – not custody

Courts in Texas do not use the term “custody” when referring to children, but rather use the word “conservator.”  In Texas, the starting point is that both parents will be named as joint managing conservators.  This does not mean each will get equal time, but that they share equally rights and duties regarding the child or children.  Some typical examples are the right to be notified in case of school emergency and to consent to medical treatment in emergencies.  Parents will most often share the right to direct the moral and religious training of the child while with the child, as well as reasonable discipline.  This list is not exhaustive, and parents who are joint managing conservators retain the rights and duties existing by virtue of the law. 

In most cases, one parent will be named primary joint managing conservator.  That parent typically has the right to determine the residence within a specific geographic area, the right to make educational decisions (where the child attends school), to receive child support and the right to claim the child as a dependent for income tax purposes.  Mostly, each parent sets the rules for their own household.

Under extreme circumstances, a court will appoint one parent as sole managing conservator and the other as possessory conservator.  Most often this occurs when there has been a history of domestic violence or drug abuse.  

Whatever the conservatorship label, the time each parent spends with the child needs to be decided.  Anything the parents agree upon can be done.  If there is no agreement, the court will decide what possession and access schedule each parent will be awarded.  

Although I have stated what are generally accepted practices, the Court must always do what is in the best interest of the child. 

Kelly Koch Attorney at Law

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