If you are thinking about ending your marriage, your children are likely to be your primary concern. After all, because divorce can take a tremendous toll on the emotional well-being of young ones, you want to do everything possible to ensure the kids end up in a good mental place.
You may have heard about sole, joint or shared custody. Texas law, though, does not use these terms. Instead, it refers to child custody as conservatorship. Essentially, conservatorship is legal recognition of a parent-child relationship. In the Lone Star State, there are three main types of conservatorships.
Joint managing conservatorships
Joint managing conservators share child-related decision-making authority. If you have this type of conservatorship, though, your children may not spend equal time with both parents. Instead, they are likely to reside with a custodial parent. Nevertheless, the non-custodial parent may have visitation rights.
Sole managing conservatorships
If a judge believes it is not in the best interests of the kids to name both parents as joint managing conservators, he or she may designate a sole managing conservator. This conservator usually has exclusive decision-making authority over child-related matters.
While a judge may name a sole managing conservator if one parent is absent, the following may also encourage him or her to do so:
- There is a history of violence inside the family
- There is evidence of child abuse or neglect
- There is a record of drug or alcohol abuse
A possessory conservator usually has visitation rights, even though he or she often lacks the legal authority to make child-related decisions. If a judge has named one parent as a sole managing conservator, he or she is likely to designate the other as a possessory conservator.
It is entirely normal to use common words instead of legalese. Regardless of what you call it, though, you should devote some time to thinking about child custody. Whether you end up a joint managing conservator, a sole managing conservator or a possessory one, your parental rights are the important part.