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Child Custody vs. Conservatorship: Unraveling Legal Terms in Family Law

Are you considering a family law case? Does your life require the intervention of a family court judge to settle an issue regarding your marriage ending, your children's life, or the enforcement of prior child support or child custody order? If so, then you may be familiar with the most important components of a family law case. Namely, is she regards your marriage, and your children are at the forefront of any list of topics that come up in a family law case. It should come as no surprise to anyone reading this blog post that the issues that people care the most about are the ones they will pay the most attention to during a family law case.

With that said, one of the topics that I think is at the top of any list when it comes to child custody cases is conservatorship. Conservatorships are a long, legal word you may have heard before but probably don't have a great idea of what it means. A term that is much shorter and easier to digest is custody. Everybody knows what custody means or at least what it refers to. Custody has to do with the central components of your life, your child's life, and your relationship with one another. It doesn't take a person to have a lot of experience in a family law case to understand what custody means.

On the other hand, conservatorship sounds pretty formal and important but is not as widely utilized as custody. It may surprise you to find out that the term custody does not appear in the Texas family code even for one time period; conversely, conservatorships is a topic covered extensively by the Texas family code. With that said, judges, and attorneys in the general public use the term custody much more than they do conservatorship. That doesn't mean that we can skip over this topic or only reference issues regarding children regarding custody.

Right there, we need to take some time and discuss what conservatorships are and how they will impact your life within a family log case. Specifically, if you find yourself in a Child Protective Services case in Texas, the topic of conservatorships takes on added importance. In today's blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, we will spend some time discussing what conservatorships are and how it functions within a family law case and then discuss these topics about Child Protective Services cases in Texas.

What does conservatorship mean?

The term conservatorship is a critically important one to anyone involved in a family law case. Conservatorship refers to the rights and duties that a person can hold about another person. In the context of a family law case, we typically deal with circumstances in which you would be a conservator over a child. However, an adult can also be a conservator over an adult who has a disability or has otherwise been declared by a court to be incapable of caring for him or herself.

As I mentioned a moment ago, conservatorship issues are critical to a family law case. When you think of your children and the role that you play in their lives, I think most of us parents would consider first and foremost the time that we can spend with our children. Theoretically, we can always add to or take away from the rights and duties that we have about our children, but time is something that we cannot add to. In other words, time is finite. For this reason, most parents that I know (including myself) value the time with our kids a great deal.

Time is not the only factor to be concerned with as a parent, however. Clients talk to our attorneys here at the Law Office of Bryan Fagan all the time about how much time they want to be able to spend with their children after their child custody or divorce case has ended. I think most parents focus so intensely on their relationship with their children first and foremost. Everything else comes in second place in a family case.

If you are about to engage in a family case, you need to be aware that it is best to have a multi-faceted approach to your case rather than a singular focus on one issue, no matter how important it is. Conservatorship focuses on every aspect of your parenting life. All of the important parts of your life are apparent to center around conservative ship issues. It may not feel like that because conservatorships are a subject that does not come up very much when you are not involved in a family law case, but after a child custody or divorce case takes place, conservatorships will be at the forefront of every decision that you make is apparent.

Fundamentally, conservatorships refer to your ability to make decisions and have the right to do so about your kids. Everything from where your child lives, the school your child goes to, and the medical treatment they can receive in a host of other topics are covered by conservatorships. You may not think much about where the child goes to school, but two subjects have likely led to your increased consideration of this topic.

For one, the coronavirus pandemic has put our children's education at the forefront of many people's minds. Certain schools have been open extensively since the beginning of the pandemic, while others have yet to open. This is true even in Texas, where restrictions on in-person gatherings have been minimal compared to other states. Studies show that children do better with in-person learning compared to virtual learning. With that said, you should be focusing on new child education more so now than ever.

Within a family law case, you may lose the right to make decisions to the extent you are accustomed to when it comes to conservatorships. Parents share equally in their rights and duties to children before the involvement of a family law court. Once you involve a family court, a judge will finalize how conservative shipwrights are divided into many important topics related to your children. For example, you may be able to obtain your child's grades from school and schedule parent-teacher conferences which you may not be able to determine where your child goes to school. This is a big change for many families and is another reason why conservatorship issues need to be focused on intensely during a family law case.

Conservatorships put a premium on your ability as a parent 2 make decisions for your child regarding where they live. This is the next subject that I would like to discuss with you in today's blog post. How do conservatorships impact you and your child's life from the standpoint of determining the primary residence of your children?

Where your child lives after a family law case is determined based upon conservatorships grounds

probably the most highly sought-after right regarding conservatorships issues within a Texas family law case is the right to determine the primary residence of your children. In my opinion, more divorce and child custody cases go to trial on this subject than on any other. Even if you and your child's other parents share parenting duties about your child on an equal basis across the board, one of you will likely be named as the parent who has the primary right to determine the child's home.

This is the difference between a primary conservator in a possessory conservator. A primary conservator has the upper hand when it comes to decision-making on behalf of your child regarding issues discussing where your child lives on a primary basis. On the other hand, a possessory conservator still retains rights and duties about your child. Still, you would take a backseat in major decision-making areas like education and health issues. For instance, a primary conservator may have final, independent, or exclusive decision-making capabilities regarding your child in some of these areas.

You should examine your particular circumstances and determine what sort of position you are in as far as becoming a primary conservator to your child. Doing so would allow you to put yourself in a position where you could more readily spend time with your child and make decisions on their behalf. However, no two circumstances are exactly alike, and you need to be honest with yourself whether or not you have a good chance to be named as your child's primary Conservator.

If your case were to make it to a trial, a judge would consider what role you have played in your child's life to that point. For instance, if you are a father who spends a great deal of time outside the home working and tending to your family's business, then you may not have been able to spend as much time at home with your child. This does not make you a bad parent or negligent, but it displays those parenting roles were divided differently in your home than others.

What family courts look for its stability and consistency in parenting. All other things being equal, a court would likely not name you as a primary conservator instead of naming your spouse in that role if she has more frequently held that responsibility to this point. This does not mean that you couldn't grow into the role or are not a fit parent. It does mean that a judge is unlikely to want to rock the applecart, so to speak. To push your case to a trial on this subject when you are unlikely to win the designation of a primary conservator may be a mistake for you.

If you are concerned about this scenario in your case, then I would recommend speaking to your attorney about your issues early on. They can guide you on the likelihood of your being named as primary conservator or the likelihood of you retaining or winning certain rights or duties in the case itself. It is better to receive an unbiased and objective response from your attorney rather than to rely upon assurances or promises made to you by other people. Your attorney will know your specific circumstances and possess knowledge of the law and how judges typically administer rulings.

The significance of conservatorships issues within a Texas Child Protective Services case

Now that we have a better idea about what conservatorships mean, we can discuss what the subject has to do with Child Protective Services cases. The vast majority of the time that Texas families become involved with Child Protective Services, it regards potential incidents of abuse or neglect of a child. Child Protective Services receives phone calls and electronic tips on abuse and neglect of children every day, and their responsibility is to investigate and substantiate those reports if able.

Suppose that you have been accused of having abused or neglected your child. This means that a CPS caseworker or investigator will likely reach out to you in person and over the phone to conduct interviews with you, any other adult living in your home, examine your home, and speak to your child. All of this goes along with an investigation that will determine whether or not abuse or neglect has occurred.

The outcome of a CPS case typically involves completing some parenting classes and steps being taken to remove potential dangers from home. This may mean fixing a defect in the home or a structural issue that causes a risk of physical harm to your child. It also may mean removing people or other circumstances from the home that would otherwise endanger the child. For most families, once these steps have been taken, the CPS case will be closed, and you will be able to proceed with your life without CPS intervention.

However, for other families, a CPS case can become much more serious. Depending both on the risk of harm to your child and on your willingness to participate in the case itself, the state of Texas may ask a judge to consider terminating your parental rights. This is a dire situation for you to find yourself in. Terminating your parental rights means that you will no longer be a Conservatory child. This means that any legal right you had to make decisions for your child and spend time with your child will be illuminated. It would be as if you never appeared to that child in the 1st place.

This type of situation does not come up very often in CPS cases. It is an outcome that infrequently occurs because Texas does not desire to terminate parental rights for the vast majority of cases involving CPS. However, some circumstances involving his cases can be so significant that some parents may display a complete unwillingness to participate in remedial and rehabilitation measures during the case that the state believes it has no choice but to attempt to terminate the parental rights of a parent for the good of the child.

Once you find yourself in a circumstance like this, you are in for the fight of your life regarding your conservative shipwrights. All of the benefits and responsibilities of parenting that we have discussed in today's blog post would be removed from your life, where your parental rights are to be terminated completely. The other thing to remember is that once your parental rights are terminated, your ability to reverse this type of finding is limited.

For that reason, I would certainly recommend that you work with an experienced family law attorney if you are involved in a CPS case of any kind. Even if your CPS case seems to be something minor or more of an annoyance initially, it can eventually turn into something more significant. This is especially true if you fail to participate in the safety planning or other interventions recommended by CPS. Simply wishing that the CPS case will go away on its own is not enough when you find yourself involved with this state agency. Their ability to seriously impact your life and destroy your relationship with your child is genuine. For that reason, taking a CPS case seriously and finding the best representation you can is essential to maintaining your conservatorships rights about your child.

Questions about the material contained in today's blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan

If you have any questions about the material shared in today's blog post, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultation six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are a great way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law and how your family may be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody case.

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  6. Family Law Cases in Texas: The final stages of a CPS case
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  11. What to do if CPS is investigating your spouse in Texas for abuse or neglect of your child?
  12. Can CPS photograph your house and request your child's medical records in Texas?

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