Conservatorship – Not Custody

The term “Child Custody” is used so often you may think it is the only term concerning where the children in a divorce will live. In fact, the state of Texas takes issue with that term. The word custody seems to imply ownership and people do not own their child as if they are property, like a table or chair. This is the reason why Texas has changed the term to conservatorship. The word conservator better defines the relationship between a parent and their child.

Two Types of Conservatorships in Texas

The two types of conservatorships are Managing and Possessory. Managing Conservatory says you are permitted to manage the things that a parent would normally manage in a child’s life.

This includes management of:

  • Mental care
  • Medical care
  • Education (including school records, permission slips, and school instruction)
  • Religious (spiritual) upbringing
  • Finances
  • Employment if the child is old enough
  • Instilling morals and ethics into the child
  • Consent to marriage (if they are old enough but under legal age)
  • Consent to military enlistment

The parent’s job is to conserve and protect the child, not to possess them.

Possessory Conservatorship is much like the term used in the other states, the “non-custodial parent.” The possessory conservator can have access to the child or children but on a pre-set (visitation) schedule. The courts will only restrict this if they feel it is in the best interest of the child. It is only done for the protection of the child and could be warranted if the parent abuses drugs or alcohol or has shown violence to the child. Other reasons could factor in based on the details of your case. Your child custody attorney is the best one to advise you on this.

Both Parents

Both parents have a legal and moral obligation to support their child financially. The fact that your child can no longer live you (at least – not currently) does not change your responsibilities to him or her.

These responsibilities include:

  • Food
  • Clothing
  • Shelter
  • Education
  • Medical care
  • Dental care
  • To exercise discipline within reason.

Sole or Joint Managing Conservatorship

Unless one parent has proven himself or herself to be unable or unwilling to care for their child, the courts will usually order joint managing conservatorship. This is like joint custody. There are reasons why a judge will not do this if they feel it is not good for the child. However, those reasons are seriously considered. Remember, the courts are not there to punish your spouse or help either of you get revenge. Their entire goal is to protect your child and ensure their safety and health.

While the terms are somewhat different and the laws may be a little different than other states, the court is trying to work with both parents to put them on equal ground, so the divorce does not damage the one thing that stands from the marriage – the child. For more information, contact one of our child custody attorneys today.