One of the things that family law attorneys become used to very early in our practice of this area of the law is people referring to issues regarding conservatorships as issues regarding “custody.” the term conservatorships is kind of clunky, and is it a term that people use much in their day-to-day lives. On the other hand, custody is a term that we hear used quite a bit in our society and, as a result, are more familiar with it and more comfortable using this term, when a family law attorney here's custody, our mind shifts into discussing conservatorships and the issues surrounding visitation, possession, and most other subjects related to children in family law cases.
One of the more common requests that we hear from people is regarding wanting sole custody. Sole custody, as best I can tell, means that a parent will want to spend most if not all of their time with the child, thereby allowing the other parents little to no time at all with him or her. While the parent may not say this, full custody or sole custody also typically means that the parent will want to have full and final decision-making abilities for that child. Obviously, he comes up in situations where a parent is not happy with the other parent and believes that he or she is better positioned to make decisions on that child's behalf.
When a parent is set to begin a divorce or child custody case, typically speaking, their position is that time with the child is the most important subject. We hear about parents who will go to great lengths to make sure that they can be the parent who has the primary responsibility of housing the child and the parent who gets more time in the other parent with that child. There is something about the scarce resource of time that parents come to understand in a divorce or child custody case. As a result, parents can get distraught when it comes to not getting all the time they want.
However, I will take this opportunity to tell you that not only is time with your child important after a divorce or child custody case, but so is the ability to make decisions on behalf of that child. This is more in line with what conservatorships truly is. There is also a situation under the law where an adult can have conservatorship over another adult. We see this occur when a person over the age of 18 has a mental or physical impairment to the point where he or she is unable to make decisions on their own. In that case, another adult can petition a court to become a Conservatory of that impaired adult, thereby handling certain decision-making responsibilities for him or her.
Unlike an adult, conservatorship rights are part and parcel of being a parent to a minor child. The law presumes that a child under the age of 18 is incapable of making decisions in their best interests. As a result, you and your Co-parent will share these rights and duties to care for, provide and make decisions for your child until they graduate from high school and/or reach the age of 18. As a result, conservatorships issues are especially important in a divorce or child custody case.
Custody forms in a Texas family law case
I have used the term full custody and sole custody already in today's blog post, and I would now like to talk to you a little bit about how custody works as far as sharing time with your child. For starters, I want you to be aware that most parents in Texas who have gone through a Texas family law case share custody along the lines of a joint managing conservatorship. A joint managing conservatorship means two things. It means that you and your co-parent share rights and duties about raising your child. Decision-making regarding education, health in other areas of your child's life will be held in tandem with the other parent. In some areas, you may be able to decide on behalf of your child without consulting the other parent. We see this happen in emergencies. In other cases, you may be able to have the sole right to decide on his or her behalf. Thus it's called having the exclusive right or duty to do something on behalf of your child.
For the most part, however, you would share rights and duties with your co-parent under a joint managing conservatorship. This would force you and your Co-parent to coordinate your parenting efforts to ensure that your child gets both of your perspectives regarding important decisions. This avoids situations where one parent can take advantage of their time with a child by making educational or medical decisions that go against the other parent's desires. This is a more deliberate process that purposely forces parents to slow down making decisions for their children.
Let's compare this process to how laws are created in our state and federal governments. Suppose that each of us could automatically create a new law just by thinking it up and putting pen to paper or fingers to keypad. If we were to take our new laws and post them at the courthouse, thousands, if not millions, of new laws, were created by each citizen daily. The government would not be able to enforce these new laws that each of us would create on our own.
This doesn't seem to make much sense. So we are a representative or Republican form of a democracy where we elect representatives who can more thoroughly debate issues of importance and then pass certain laws after the debate if it sees fit to do so. Even after this process in an executive of the state of Texas or of the United States, in other words, the governor of Texas and the president of the United States has the ability to veto certain laws in certain situations.
This should tell you that it is not easy to get a new law passed by design. The founding fathers wanted it to be a slow process where passions towards any particular cause or knew law could be abated by the long and thorough discussion on the merits of passing a new law. For those of you who won immediate governmental response to issues or problems of the day, this is probably very frustrating. However, I believe that this process is for the best it has limited the number of laws that could be passed, which may not be in our best interest as citizens in the future.
This is how it works when parenting a child in a co-parenting scenario, as well. Even if you would like to decide on behalf of your child, you will likely need to coordinate your co-parent response in the future. If he or she does not agree with the position you take, it may be left to a neutral third party to weigh in the in-play tiebreaker. These are all specifics that will need to be worked out in your final orders, and you can work with your attorney on how to fine-tune the language to make sure that your child's best interests are always maintained.
What does sole custody mean in a split parenting situation?
When there is a divided household, having sole custody means that one parent will have a superior position to make decisions and own that child. Silicon city is certainly not the norm for a Texas family law case, but it is possible to achieve this outcome depending upon your circumstances. For the most part, absent the circumstances that we are about to cover, you should expect to be named a joint managing conservator of your child after your child custody or divorce case. For the sake of being thorough, however, we can go through those scenarios right now and let you gain insight into how you may become the sole managing conservator of your child.
Then I would tell you that one of the circumstances may merit a sole managing conservatorship for one of the parents when one parent lives outside the country of Texas. For example, if you are about to go through a divorce and your spouse is moving outside of Texas to take a new job, then he or she may not be in a position to be able to make decisions on behalf of your child. For much of your child's life, this may not be a problem since your child ash typically been healthy and does not need emergency intervention for their health or schooling frequently. However, it may come up that he or she does have a problem that arises where you and your spouse need to get together and decide on his or her behalf.
If you find yourself in a position where your spouse will not be able to be communicated with quickly and cannot be counted upon to make decisions on time for your child, then you may want to ask to become the sole managing conservator of your child. This would allow you to hold more exclusive rights to make decisions on behalf of your child and would help you to be able to make decisions more readily in the best interests of your child. You do not want to be in a position where your child has an opportunity to do something in school, but you would need permission from your ex-spouse to cause that to happen.
When negotiating on subjects like this with your spouse in mediation, it is best to talk about them from your child's perspective rather than through any advantage that you might be able to gain over him or her. Remember that your child stands to gain most from any conservatorship situation, and you should put yourself in the background in any of these conversations. Your spouse is more likely to make decisions that favor your child, then favor you. Do not put yourself at the forefront of any of these discussions, and I think you will be more likely to gain an outcome that is most desirable for your child.
When it comes to possession of your child, call it a sole managing conservatorship that allows you to be with your child more often than not. Under a standard possession order, your ex-spouse would have the right to own your child on the 1st, 3rd, and 5th weekends of each month. Under a sole managing conservatorship, this type of visitation structure may be allowable. Still, it is more likely that your ex-spouse would have restricted Visitation based on whatever circumstances justify the sole managing conservatorship in the 1st place.
For instance, your spouse may be living abroad and cannot see her child that much anyway. In other cases, your spouse’s behavior may endanger your child and, therefore, not be appropriate to have as much visitation as even a first, 3rd, and 5th-weekend tradeoff with you. You should rely upon your attorney's advice and learn as much about the options of visitation under sole custody arrangements as possible. That way, you can make the best decisions for your child in this regard, as well.
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 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 consultations six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. Thank you for your interest in our law office, and we hope that you will join us again on our blog tomorrow as we continue to post relevant and helpful information about the world of Texas family law.
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Other Articles you may be interested in:
- 12 Texas Custody & Conservatorship Battle Tips
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- Do I Have to Pay Child Support if I Have Joint Custody of My Child in Texas?
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- Are Dads at a Disadvantage when trying to win 50/50 custody in a Texas Divorce?
- Sole Managing Conservator in a Child Custody Case in Texas?
- Help!! My Ex-Spouse Kidnapped my Child
- How Much Will My Texas Child Custody Case Cost?
- When Can a Minor Child Weigh in on Custody Decisions in Texas?”
- Child Custody Geographic Restrictions in Texas
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.