The demands on parents and children never seem to decrease. For those who have physically separated or divorced, there are even more complex battles and insurmountable issues. Parents in Texas who confront issues of conservatorship often require intervention of the courts to resolve issues focused on the best interests of the child.
Sole versus joint custody
Texas uses the word “conservatorship” to refer to custody of a child. Two types of conservatorships exist in Texas:
- Sole managing conservators: One person or entity has the right and responsibility to make decisions about a child. These are most common when the parents share a volatile relationship.
- Joint managing conservators: The preferred arrangement by the courts. Factors such as geographic proximity, cooperation among the parents and shared children rearing prior to the case are considered.
Child’s best interests and shared parental responsibilities
A recent court case highlights how the scope of joint conservatorship extends to almost every aspect of the parent-child relationship.
Parents of two girls, ages 5 and 8, divorced in 2015. In 2018, the mother sought to modify the existing parent-child relationship because the circumstances of the children and conservator had “materially and substantially changed.” She requested appointment as sole managing conservator. The court ultimately denied her request.
In February 2020, the court separated issues such as right to access to medical, educational and psychological records of the children jointly, but granted to the father the exclusive right to consent to psychiatric and psychological treatment of the children.
The court denied the mother’s appeal on the basis of a standard of review applied to a trial court’s decision on custody, possession and visitation matters. In short, the mother asked for a narrow technical ruling that fell short of the standard required.
Separation, divorce and conservatorship lead to practical resolutions that do not apply uniformly. All parties – children, parents and other care providers – develop an awareness of how to create the best environment most suitable in the long term for the child. An attorney who understands these dynamics can offer guidance.