Texas Child Custody Law Operates In Best Interests Of The Child

Divorce can be an emotionally taxing experience for both spouses. It can result in conflict and hurt feelings. And it is likely to bring about radical changes in lifestyle for the whole family. That said, the impact a divorce can have on a child whose parents divorce is tenfold, and the family law of Texas relating to child custody is designed to mitigate this concern. In Texas, child custody has a section on the rights and duties of parents. Child custody is actually referred to as "conservatorship," and there are two kinds: joint managing conservatorship and sole managing conservatorship. Secondly, there is the issue of visitation and who will have primary custody.

Part I: Parents' Rights And Duties With A Sole Managing Conservatorship

A sole managing conservatorship under Texas law grants one parent the exclusive right to make decisions regarding a child's future. As the only parent with these powers, the sole managing conservator has the right to dictate where the child will live and where the child will be educated, as well as provide consent for medical treatment involving invasive procedures and psychiatric and psychological treatment. Finally, the sole managing conservator will be entitled to receive child support from the other parent since they have the primary residence of the child.

The court may grant one parent a sole managing conservatorship for a variety of reasons. For example, if one parent has a history of violent or negligent behavior, drug or alcohol abuse or criminal activity, or has been absent from the child's life, that may be deciding factors to grant a sole managing conservatorship to the other parent.

Joint Managing Conservatorship

The name "joint managing conservatorship" under Texas law grants both parents equal rights to help make legal, medical and other decisions. The designation indicates that the Texas family court has specifically enumerated in the joint managing conservatorship agreement the decision-making powers each parent has regarding the child's future.

Part II: Visitation And Primary Conservatorship

The second question a court or mediator must decide, or parents must agree on, is which parent will be the primary parent for residential purposes. Whichever parent is primary means essentially that the other parent will receive a standard possession order or expanded possession order. The primary conservator only receives the right to child support. Child support is generally set according to the Texas child support guidelines.

Part III: Modifying An Order

In modifying a child custody, visitation or child support order if the parties are not married, the original petition would be a Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship or SAPCR. This suit would only address issues pertaining to the child.

Speak With An Experienced Family Lawyer

Most Texans who find themselves involved in a divorce do not know the specifics of the state child custody laws. Often a lack of effective representation can lead to a less-than-satisfactory outcome for one or both parents, and even for the child. Ultimately, what is in the child's best interests is paramount, and an attorney who has dealt with many such situations before can be of tremendous help in that regard. At the Law Office of Rebecca Anne Gonzalez, we take on challenging child custody situations. Call 210-368-2608 or complete our email form to set up your initial consultation.