Custody of children involved in a Texas divorce can manifest in a number of arrangements. Whichever custody agreement you choose, it's important to understand the distinction between legal and physical custody.
Texas courts refer to custody as "conservatorship," which refers to a parent's legal rights and responsibilities to the child. Conservatorship is held by one parent or both, depending on the child's best interests. When the court only grants one of the parents conservatorship, that parent is said to have sole managing conservatorship. On the other hand, when both parties are granted parenting rights, they are said to have a joint managing conservatorship.
The conservators' legal rights include:
- Decision-making about medical, dental or surgical treatment.
- Decision-making about educational options.
- Consent to emergency treatment of a medical, surgical or dental nature.
- Access to child's medical, dental and school records.
- Decision-making about school, sports or other extracurricular activities.
- Attendance at child's sports, activities or other extracurricular events.
Typically, it is best if parents can each have an important role in a child's life. For this reason, the courts may find it preferable that a joint managing conservatorship be created. However, there are circumstances in which a judge may believe that it is in the child's best interests for only one of the parents to have conservatorship responsibilities.
Navigating child-sharing options during an emotionally fraught divorce can be difficult under the best circumstances. It's in your child's best interest to choose a custody agreement that allows for optimum health and development as the child ages. A competent, compassionate divorce law attorney may be able to help you better understand your choices so you can make a well-informed decision for your child.