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Child conservatorship in Texas

Child custody in Texas is known by the legal term conservatorship. The parent, rather than being known as a legal guardian or custodian, is called a conservator. As in other states, a conservator has important legal responsibilities. In many divorce cases, parents are able to use an agreed-upon agreement that must be approved by a court. Otherwise, a judge must determine what the arrangement is to be.

Acting in the best interests of the child is the most important factor in conservatorship cases. Some of the rights that are included include getting information about the child from the other parent, accessing medical and educational records, talking to medical and other professionals about the child and providing consent for medical procedures. Two types of distinctive conservatorships are recognized in Texas and are referred to as joint managing conservatorship and sole managing conservatorship.

Courts presume that both parents will have joint managing conservatorship although one parent may have more authority to make decisions than the other. Custody and visitation are dealt with in a standard possession order. There are some circumstances where it is in the best interests of the child for a parent to have sole managing conservatorship. Family violence and neglect, substance abuse, criminal activity and conflicts over religious beliefs, medical treatment and education are factors. A parent absent from the child's life or who does not want the responsibility might not be granted conservatorship.

Couples contemplating divorce who are concerned about visitation and other issues will need to carefully consider their legal rights and responsibilities. Because the welfare of a dependent is involved, parents need to fully understand the consequences of the two types of conservatorship arrangements that are available.

Source: Findlaw, "Child Custody in Texas", August 28, 2014

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Bruce Turner

In addition to his law degree, Bruce Turner has a master's degree in tax law and is Board Certified in Commercial Real Estate Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.

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