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Examining conservatorship in Texas

Conservatorships are the rights and responsibilities of the parent toward the child. The parent who has custody of the child after a divorce is known as the conservator.

As with other states, if divorcing parents can come to a decision about a parenting plan, courts enforce that. But if they cannot, then courts decide the terms of the conservatorship according to the best interests of the children. There are two types of conservatorships, joint managing and sole managing conservatorship.

Texas has a presumption of joint managing conservatorship. This means that both parties share the rights and duties of parenting, even though there are certain rights that can be given to one of the parents exclusively. However, joint managing conservatorships do not mean equal child custody and visitation rights-those are decided separately in a visitation schedule.

In a sole managing conservatorship, only one parent is given the legal right to make decisions about the child. These decisions include the right to decide the child's primary residence, giving consent to medical, dental, psychiatric and psychological treatment, receiving child support and making decisions regarding the child's education.

If parents are unable to agree on the visitation schedule (known as possession of and access to a child), then the court will order a schedule based on the best interests of the child.

It is always better for parents to try to create a schedule or parenting plan that suits their needs and schedules-a court appointed plan may be difficult to implement. However, when it is not possible, courts can be presented with each side's situation and a plan devised. A lawyer may be able to help Texas families navigate through the process of child custody.

Source: FindLaw, "Child custody in Texas," Accessed on March 8, 2016

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