In a divorce or child custody dispute in Texas, the parents are usually named Joint Managing Conservators. This means that the rights and duties of parenthood are shared between the parents. However, in some cases, the court might decide to name one parent Sole Managing Conservator.
When a parent is named Sole Managing Conservator, that parent will have the right to make all or most decisions regarding the child and exclude the other parent from the decision-making process. The Sole Managing Conservator’s decision making power might include:
- Decisions about medical care
- Decisions about education
- Allowing the child to marry before the age of 18
- Deciding where the child will live
The other parent will be named the Possessory Conservator. That parent will usually get visitation with the child and have certain duties when they are in their possession, such as the duty to provide for the child’s physical needs.
Why the Court Might Choose a Sole Managing Conservator over Joint Managing Conservatorship
There is a rebuttable presumption in Texas that appointing both parents Joint Managing Conservators is in the child’s best interest. Why then might the court choose to appoint one parent, the Sole Managing Conservator?
The court’s first consideration is the best interest of the child. Some factors the court might consider when deciding what is in the child’s best interest include:
- The child’s desires
- The emotional and physical needs of the child, now and in the future
- Danger to the child, now and in the future
- The parental abilities of both parents
- Stability of the home environment
- The plans each parent has for the child.
- Whether there is evidence of domestic violence
- Whether either parent has filed a false report of child abuse
The court may not favor either parent on account of gender or marital status.
Split Custody Arrangements
When there are two or more children involved, some families see a split custody arrangement as a possible solution. In a split custody arrangement, one parent will be named the Sole Managing Conservator of one child, and the other parent will be named the Sole Managing Conservator of the other child. Texas courts do not favor this arrangement.
In Texas, courts prefer to keep siblings together, to be raised as a family. Courts will not usually approve a split custody arrangement unless there is a clear and compelling reason to do so. Of course, the biggest concern is what is in the best interest of the child. So while split custody is not prohibited outright, it is scarce and only used where there are excellent reasons for doing so.
Of course, split custody is more common when the children are not all from the same relationship or marriage, but some children are from a previous relationship. There is no requirement that there be a clear and compelling reason to split custody in those situations.
Out of Court Options
Most parents do not realize that they can agree on a custody arrangement and that the court will usually adopt their agreement. It is usually preferable to agree to a custody arrangement outside of court, as in-court custody battles can be emotionally draining. Our family law attorneys are available to help you design a custody arrangement that is right for your family. In those situations where an agreement cannot be reached, our attorneys are prepared to protect your rights in court.
Families should consider both Sole and Joint Managing Conservatorships when deciding which type of arrangement will be right for them. In most cases, a Joint Managing Conservatorship is best for the children involved, but not always. Courts and parents should be most concerned with what is best for the child, and in some cases, that may be appointing one parent Sole Managing Conservator.
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Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC | Houston, Texas Child Custody Lawyers
The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding child custody, it's important to speak with one of our Houston, TX child custody lawyers right away to protect your rights.
Our child custody lawyers in Houston, TX, are skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC handles child custody cases in Houston, Texas, Cypress, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, Houston, the FM 1960 area, or surrounding areas, including Harris County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Galveston County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County, and Waller County.