Simply put, there is a presumption in Texas family law that it is in your child’s best interest to have a relationship and continued contact with both of their parents. To further this goal of our state, family court judges will name you and your ex-spouse as “joint conservators” of your child more often than not. Joint conservatorship refers to a situation when you and your ex-spouse share rights, duties, and time in a somewhat equal fashion about your child. While you or your ex-spouse will have the ability to determine the primary residence, receive child support, and thereby have more possession of your child, the other rights and duties are basically even in many situations.
However, it is the presumption that is in place at the beginning of every child custody case or divorce in Texas that parents should be named as joint managing conservators. In reality, this arrangement does not always work best for families, and it is sometimes necessary to have one parent be named the sole managing conservator of a child.
Rebutting the presumption in favor of naming parents as joint managing conservators
You will need to present ample evidence that naming you and your ex-spouse or other parents as joint managing conservators of your child. This much we know. I will list the factors that your court is likely to look at to determine your child’s best interests.
The most logical way to do this would be to prove past domestic and/or family violence incidents. Endangering your child's physical and emotional welfare will likely mean that the other parent will be named a possessory conservator with possibly supervised visitation. The reason for this is that a court is prohibited from naming a person with a history of domestic violence as a joint managing conservator of your child. The evidence must not be merely allegations but credible evidence.
As a sole managing conservator, you would have superior rights and duties when making decisions related to education, medical, and psychiatric issues compared to your ex-spouse. Besides, you would likely be in physical possession of your child more often than you would under a joint managing conservatorship.
How will a court evaluate your petition to be named as the sole managing conservator?
First of all, you need to petition (ask) the court in your Original Petition for Divorce or Original Petition in Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship (SAPCR) to be named as the sole managing conservator of your child. Without doing so, you cannot just magically appear in a trial and ask for it then. Go ahead and make sure you ask for this in your Original Petition filed with the Court. If you have already filed and not plead for sole managing conservatorship, I recommend that you file an amended petition to meet this requirement.
A court will view your ability to care for your child as being of primary importance. This isn’t just a roof over their head and food in their bellies, either. This means that you will be judged based on your track record and the likelihood of providing for the physical and emotional well bell of your child. Have you ever presented a threat to your child in terms of their physical or emotional well being? If you are not a stabilizing force in your child’s life, it is doubtful that you would be named as the sole managing conservator of your child.
Other factors include your ability and willingness to co-parent with your child’s other parent after the divorce or child custody case concludes, as well as what your individual parenting skills are. If you have spent most of your child’s life at work, this is not a bad thing or a mark against your “parenting record.” Nobody would begrudge you for supporting your family. However, being away from the house would not help you develop and maintain the sort of parenting skills that are helpful when asking to be named as the sole managing conservator of your child.
Family Relationships are important in a divorce or child custody case.
As an extension of a child’s parents, your and your opposing party’s families are also important to consider if you will be able to be named as the sole managing conservator of your child. How close do you live to your child’s extended family will play a big role. If you have moved a few hundred miles from your child and now ask to be named as a sole managing conservator, you will have an uphill battle to win that designation. Another very critical factor that a court will consider is whether or not you or your child’s other parent will encourage a strong relationship between your child and both of their parents. If it has been shown that you will belittle and take steps to harm your child’s relationship with the other parent, then you will likewise struggle to be named as the sole managing conservator of your child.
Abuse and neglect as factors when determining conservatorship
If either you or your child’s other parent has a history of abusing or neglecting either your child or one another, that too will bar the offender from being named as the sole managing conservator of your child. This is especially true if these acts occurred either during the present case or in the immediate period covering two years before this case. Family violence is a huge risk for a child in situations like this. If we consider your child's well-being, it is difficult to conceive of a situation where a person with that sort of history could be named as the sole managing conservator of the child.
With everything said, what are your chances of being named the sole managing conservator of your child?
The burden to overcome the presumption that it is in your child's best interest for you and the other parent to be named joint managing conservators is great. The vast majority of the time, parents are named as joint managing conservators. When considering all of the aforementioned factors, the possible history of family/domestic violence, and the best interests of the child, there just is not a lot of opportunities to be successful in a petition for sole managing conservatorship in most cases.
However, if you are in a position where the other parent in your child’s life has not been a part of their life or has been violent with you or your child, you stand a strong chance to be named as a sole managing conservator. Even if you are not successful in being named as a sole managing conservator, you can present a case to be awarded a disproportionate share of your child's possession if the circumstances allow for that to occur. To allow yourself to do so, it is important that you have experienced and knowledgeable counsel at your side.
Questions about winning sole managing conservatorship? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
To learn more about our office and ask one of our licensed family law attorneys any question you may have regarding sole managing conservatorship, please contact our office today. Our attorneys represent clients across southeast Texas and would be honored to do the same for you and your family. A consultation with our office is free of charge and can provide you with the answers you need to decide whether or not to begin a family law case.
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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.