What is Conservatorship Under Texas Law? When you file for divorce, you enter strange and unfamiliar territory, and often this means learning a completely new language. You might have heard the term conservator bandied about in court, by your lawyer, or by friends who have previously gotten divorced. Now that you’re facing divorce yourself, though, understanding what a conservator is can make the difference between being clued-in about your case and being left totally in the dark.
What is Conservatorship?
Texas courts refer to legal custody as conservatorship. The conservator, then, is the person who has the rights to make important decisions about the child. Conservators can make important decisions such as:
• The right to designate the principal residence of the child. (This is what is commonly referred to as “custody”).
• Authorizing medical care and determining what medical care is appropriate for a child.
• Getting access to a child’s medical, dental, educational, and legal records.
• Determining where the child goes to school.
• Authorizing mental health care, physical therapy, or care for a disabled child.
When parents are married, both parents have the right to make such decisions. If you’re still a bit fuzzy on what a conservator is, simply think of the conservator as the person who gets to make the “standard” decisions that married parents make.
What Types of Conservatorship Are There?
Conservatorship doesn’t always go to one parent. Instead, Texas law offers two types of conservatorship. Under a sole managing conservatorship, only one parent has the right to make decisions about the child. This means that, should the parents disagree about what’s best for the child, the sole managing conservator’s decision rules the day. Judges usually only issue sole managing conservatorship orders when the other parent has a history of abuse, violence, addiction, or irresponsible behavior. Judges may also order such an arrangement when the other parent has been absent from the child’s life or does not want a joint managing conservatorship.
Under a joint managing conservatorship arrangement, both parents have the right to make decisions about the child. Such arrangements are increasingly common, but judges will evaluate the ability of the parents to work together, the ability of both parents to participate in the child’s life and whether such an arrangement will benefit the child. Under such agreements, a process, like mediation, is put in place to help the parents resolve any disagreement that may arise.
No matter what type of conservatorship arrangement you opt for or the judge orders, the key is to focus on a healthy, happy child who knows he/she is free to love and have fun with both parents.. As long as one parent isn’t abusive, children deserve relationships with both parents, and you should do everything in your power to help your child remain close to your ex. In the end, your child will benefit from your willingness to work cooperatively.
If you have questions about a divorce or any other family law matter, we are here to answer your questions. Please contact us today for your free initial consultation..