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Conservatorship in Texas: What is it and how does it apply to my family?

If you believe that a divorce or child custody case is something that is in your future it is important to understand the basics of family law in Texas. While hiring strong and steady representation for yourself, such as the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, is important it does not solve every issue for you and your case.

A lot of the difficulty with any family law case comes with a lack of understanding on the part of the client when it comes to what exactly is happening in a case. A frustrated client is an unhappy client and no matter the result of the case an unhappy client is just that- unhappy.

To try and minimize confusion and build up at least a basic understanding of some important aspects of a family law case, I would like to share some information with you all on a subject that comes up in any case where children are involved: conservatorship.

What does conservatorship mean?

Conservatorship is a word that Texas, along with most other states, uses in order to take into consideration how parents of a child will share custody when those parents are either no longer together or were never married in the first place. There are legal, physical, and emotional needs that a child has and conservatorship is intended to take all of those needs into consideration.

A more commonly heard word (and one that even attorneys use with frequency) is “custody”. In fact, most potential clients of the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC who come into our office for a consultation talk about custody of the child.

Conservatorship is not a word I’ve ever heard anyone other than those involved in the legal field use before. However, the word “custody” does not appear even once in the Texas Family Code. For our purposes, when beginning your custody or divorce case expect to hear the term conservatorship a great deal.

Titles are important when it comes to Conservatorship

When it comes to a conservatorship determination in your Texas divorce or child custody case, you will be given a title by the court. The most typical designation for Texas parents is “joint managing conservators”. This means that for the most part, both parents share equally in the rights and duties of raising the child.

The main difference is that the parent who has the child primarily will be the primary conservator while the parent who has visitation is the non-primary parent. The presumption for a Texas court is to name the parties joint managing conservators. This is due to the fact that it is the public policy of our state to allow and encourage both parents to have a strong and active role in the rearing of their child.

When there are negative factors at work, however, such as domestic violence or drug abuse, the designations of each parent may change. In this type of scenario, the parent with whom the child resides primarily will be designated as the “sole managing conservator” and the other parent will be the “possessory conservator”. Unlike with joint managing conservators, parents under a sole managing conservatorship will not share the rights and duties to the child in a somewhat equitable fashion.

On the contrary, because one parent is deemed to be lacking in some fundamental aspect of their parenting skills, the sole managing conservator will have more rights and duties the child. Commonly the possessory conservator will also have lesser or even restricted/supervised visitation with the child as well.

When you think of conservatorship, think of rights and duties

We’ve already discussed the term “rights and duties” a few times in this blog post but what exactly are the rights and duties that a parent is responsible for? There are basic, unalienable rights and duties that a parent has- such as the duty to provide for the child and to ensure the safety of the child as best as possible.

The main right of a parent that must actually be determined either by agreement of the parties or by a judge is the right to determine where the child is going to reside primarily. One parent must have this right as theirs solely- it cannot be shared between the parents.

Along with the right to determine the primary residence of the child comes the right to be paid child support. That child support has to come from somewhere and it is the other conservator that will be ordered to pay the support.

When you think of conservatorship, think of financial support

Child support and medical support are paid to the parent with whom the child lives with primarily. The Family Code has a guideline for child support based on a percentage of the obligor parent’s monthly net income.

For health insurance, either the parent who pays child support will provide insurance and be reimbursed by the other parent for out of pocket expenses, or the primary parent will provide health insurance and the non primary parent will pay cash medical support in an amount that will allow the primary parent to be on level footing as far as costs are concerned

When you think of conservatorship, think of time with the child

Texas has a Standard Possession Schedule which lays out the periods of possession that the non primary parent has available to him or her. Depending on the time of year and how far away the non primary parent lives from the children, the visitation schedule can provide more or less time to be with the child than at other points in the year.

Of course, if the parties to a divorce or child custody case are able to come to an agreement on the issue of conservatorship then they can have their own visitation schedule included in an order.

Questions regarding conservatorship? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC today

If you have read this blog post and have any questions on the subject of conservatorship, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC. A consultation with one of our licensed family law attorneys is free of charge and are available six days per week.

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  3. Texas Child Custody Modifications
  4. Amicus Attorneys in Child Custody Disputes in Texas?
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Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC | Kingwood Divorce Lawyer

The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding divorce, it's important to speak with ar Kingwood, TX Divorce Lawyer right away to protect your rights.

A divorce lawyer in Kingwood TX is 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 Divorce cases in Spring, Texas, Cypress, Spring, 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.

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