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Joint managing conservators in a Texas child custody case

Child custody is a term that we hear a lot about in family law proceedings. It is a general term that refers to issues related to visitation, possession, and child support. We all like to use shortened terms to refer to complex subjects. Child custody as a term of art reflects this. Judges, attorneys, and parties refer to child custody as a part of larger cases. It is as common as any other terminology in a family law case. 

With that said, it is not the official term used in family law. The actual term that people use in the world of family law is conservatorship. Conservatorship refers to the rights and duties that you have concerning your children. This is how parenting is truly determined in Texas. By considering your rights and duties as a parent you can help your child immensely throughout his life. The same is said for you and your co-parent. Each of you has rights and duties concerning your children.

In today’s blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, we will be discussing joint managing conservatorship. Being the joint managing conservator over a child means taking into consideration the needs of that child and putting them first. With that said it can be easier said than done to manage this relationship. Throughout your family law case, you and your co-parent will be tasked with caring for your child together.

Why is co-parenting so important?

Co-parenting matters a great deal when it comes to the daily life of your child. This is one of the most overlooked parts of raising a child in separate households. Namely, you will need to be able to coordinate your parenting efforts with someone that you no longer live with. That you and your co-parent were never able to communicate all that well together is yet another reason why learning co-parenting skills becomes so important. The last thing you want to do is to enter a life as a parent without the ability to work alongside your co-parent.

In some situations, it just takes time to be able to effectively raise a child with your co-parent. You may be at a point right now where it is incredibly difficult for you to be able to co-parent effectively. This may be the result of coming out of a bad marriage or relationship. In circumstances like this, you must remember that co-parenting is a process. There are no shortcuts when it comes to being able to raise a child together. Giving yourself some amount of patience and grace during this time is key.

However, there must be some effort made when it comes to improving the relationship that you have with your co-parent. It isn’t as if this relationship is going to suddenly form together out of nowhere. Rather, you need to be able to work at the relationship for it to improve. Fortunately, working in a co-parenting relationship is not complicated. For most people, all it takes is making some degree of effort towards working out problems with the other person through communication.

Improved communication leads to improved parenting

When it comes to improving your skills as a co-parent you need look no further than becoming a better communicator. One of the realities of the situation is that just because you like to talk or find yourself talking a lot does not mean that you are a good communicator. Many of us find that communication is difficult because we struggle with being a good listener. That is something we can lose sight of a lot of the time. Namely, that communication is as much about listening as it is talking.

As you begin to work on your co-parenting skills you must attempt to communicate better with you your co-parent. That communication may hinge on simply making more of an effort to listen. After your family law case, you should set aside time to talk to your co-parent. Make sure that he or she has an opportunity to share their thoughts and concerns over the state of your relationship. Then, you can attempt to help your co-parent understand that you are going to do your best to put this relationship at the top of your priorities list.

When you make a concerted effort to communicate better with your co-parent you will find that your relationship improves. It sounds simple but allowing your co-parent to feel heard and listened to makes a tremendous difference. The more seriously you take this responsibility the better the quality of life your child has. Certainly, your child will benefit both in the short and long term from your improved co-parenting relationship.

When it comes to managing the daily affairs of your child you should know that you will be sharing these responsibilities with your co-parent. As joint managing conservators, the name indicates that you will take part in decision-making situations alongside your co-parent. While there are some differences in your rights and duties as a parent, for the most part, decisions are made jointly in major areas of your child’s life. Let’s walk through some of those areas right now.

If your child is school-aged, then that means he or she has important scenarios that need to be acted upon. These include decisions about the courses he takes in school, programs made available to him, and other educational decisions. For the most part, these are decisions that are made in combination with your co-parent. In a joint managing conservatorship, you need to get used to attending parent-teacher conferences and updating your co-parent on homework assignments and things of this nature. The better you can work alongside your co-parent, the better your child’s performance will be in school.

Medical decision-making for joint managing conservators

Another critical area where you share decision-making authority is regarding medical subjects. Emergency medical decisions can almost always be made independently. For example, it would not make sense in a true life or death scenario to have to wait for your parent’s approval to consent to a surgery or other medical procedure. However, and other medical decisions you should expect to need to speak with your co-parent before moving forward with anything. Optional vaccines, certain tests, and medications are to be prescribed to our subjects where joint managing conservators must put their heads together. Making these decisions should be done to benefit your child primarily.

Where joint managing conservators have differing rights

This is not to say that you and your co-parent will share the same rights and duties across the board. There are some differences in your rights and duties which you can expect to have in your case. For instance, you can expect that one parent will be named as the primary managing conservator of your child. This means that one of you will be able to determine the primary residence of your child. Along with this right is the ability to receive child support.

On the other hand, the non-primary conservator has visitation rights concerning your child. Additionally, this parent also has a responsibility to pay child support. For families going through a child custody case, these are the important distinctions to draw. When it comes to disputes in the context of a child custody case, you can expect that these are the ones that will draw the most animosity between parents. It is not easy to go through a family law case and dispute important subjects like this. However, for families like yours, it is to be expected that there are some issues when it comes to this subject.

Parents who expect to be named as primary managing conservators should be well positioned in terms of their history and raising the child. Many parents do not understand that the groundwork for their conservatorship requests needs to be laid before the case. This means that if you cannot produce a strong history of having been the primary conservator for children you should not expect to be named as such in the divorce. This is a major issue that families face as they head into need child custody circumstances.

Does the law favor mothers over fathers in conservatorship scenarios?

One of the important questions that the attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan receive regularly is whether the law favors mothers over fathers when it comes to custody. The theory is that mothers are given preference under the law when it comes to being named as primary conservators. Anecdotally, it does seem like mothers when primary custody in cases more often than fathers. With that said, is it true that the law favors mothers more than fathers in this important area of a case?

The law does not favor either mothers or fathers. The law does not particularly care which parent is named as the primary conservator. However, what you should be doing the law does favor considering the best interests of children in child custody circumstances. The best interest of your child is served by maintaining consistency and stability in the home. Therefore, the history of you and your co-parent in raising your children will be considered strongly. You should consider what your parenting role has been before attempting to negotiate conservatorship circumstances.

For instance, if you have been the parent who cares for your child daily then it may be completely appropriate for you to ask for primary conservatorship rights and duties. This means that your child is well-acclimated to spending a great deal of time with you. Additionally, you are familiar with how to take care of your child on a day-in and day-out basis. On the other hand, what can be said if you are a parent who has not cared for your child on a primary basis? Can you win primary custody?

Fathers and their relationship with the question of primary custody

One of the major sticking points in a Texas child custody case is whether fathers can win primary custody. Many fathers enter a case completely pessimistic about their chances. They have heard people tell them that fathers cannot win custody. We need to figure out whether this is true and if you can win custody on a primary basis as a father. As a parent, you deserve to know the truth before entering a child custody case.

Almost everything in a conservatorship discussion depends upon your relationship to your children. If you have acted as primary conservator of your children before then there is every expectation that you can win primary conservatorship on a formal basis in the child custody case. That said, you need to be prepared to present evidence to a court showing that this is the case. It may come down to little things like taking your kid to the doctor, being present for sporting events, and your work schedule.

Parents who work outside the home have an important role to fill as far as bringing in income and supporting their family financially. Nobody would dispute this important function within the life of your family. That said, the reality of your breadwinning role in the family can also impact you negatively when it comes to determining primary conservatorship. The simple truth is that the income-earning parent may not be in the home as much as the primary caretaker. This will factor into a judge’s decision on an important question like this.

Understanding visitation and possession

Being able to manage expectations surrounding visitation and possession is a critical part of a child custody case. One of the most significant transition periods in a family law case involves being able to share custody effectively. We have spoken extensively about the rights and duties of a parent after a family law case. Now we are going to shift gears and talk about sharing physical custody. 

Coordinating on drop off and pickup of your children may sound like a relatively simple subject. However, it becomes complex when you factor in all the emotions and relational difficulties that you and your co-parent may share. This means that focusing on communication and coordination is incredibly important. Not doing so puts you at risk of harming your relationship with your co-parent and your child. Even if this becomes one of the more frustrating parts of your case it is worth putting some effort into it. Short-term frustration may lead to long-term gains that work out best for you and your child.

One of the simple things you can do to improve as a parent in this area of your life is to understand your court orders. The better you understand your court orders the less likely you are to Make mistakes that impact your family. If you know when your periods of possession begin and end that significantly reduces the degree to which you and your co-parent may argue over periods of possession. Anything you can do to increase the peace and decrease the acrimony that you and your co-parent experience should be tried.

Final thoughts on conservatorship rights and duties in a family law case

There is so much in the space of conservatorship rights and duties that we can talk to you about here on our blog. Conservatorship rights and duties go beyond what the law says. Eventually, your ability to co-parent in your relationship with your co-parent is what matters most of all. If you and your co-parent can together on matters related to your children then you all will be just fine.

However, possessing a solid understanding of the law allows you to form the basis for an even better relationship. Working with an experienced family law attorney during your case is a great way for you to increase the possibility of developing a strong knowledge of the law combined with a strong relationship with your co-parent. Many parents will say that they began to build a strong relationship with their co-parent during the case itself.

Diligent negotiation combined with mutual respect forms strong bonds between co-parents. Even though you and your co-parent are unlikely to see eye to eye on everything that doesn’t mean you can’t try to work together. Thank you for joining us today on the blog for the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Please consider joining us again tomorrow as we continue to share relevant and interesting blog posts on the world of Texas family law.

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

The attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan offer free of charge consultations 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. Before signing a document or negotiating on a subject you do not know well, contact our office. We look forward to the opportunity of serving you during an important part of your life. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan is on your side. 

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