When a couple divorces, one of their most common concerns revolves around child custody. How will the child’s time be split between each parent? Who gets to decide?
In Texas, a divorced couple can propose a custody plan they’ve agreed upon to a judge for written agreement. If they can’t agree on a plan, a judge will determine custody – otherwise referred to as conservatorship.
Texas has two types of conservatorship: joint managing conservatorship (JMC) and sole managing conservatorship (SMC). In JMC, both parents share rights, responsibilities and decision-making when it comes to their child. In SMC, only one parent has these rights.
Courts take several factors into considerations when determining conservatorship. Texas does not discriminate on sex or marital status when deciding whether to appoint a sole managing conservator or joint managing conservators. They will, however, take into consideration:
- Any history of abuse or neglect
- Any history of criminal activity
- If either parent hasn’t been present in the child’s life
- If there’s a huge conflict between the parents over education, health or religion
The state’s public policy is to keep children in contact with parents who provide a safe environment and act in the best interest of the children. The policy also encourages parents to share rights and duties after divorce.
Also, if your child is 12 or older, the court will allow them to sign an affidavit if they wish to stay with a certain parent. Perhaps they want to live primarily with their father because he’s remaining in their school district.
While the court allows children to voice their opinions, the children’s preferences are not binding. The court recognizes that the child’s stance is not all that matters – conservatorship will be based on the overall best interests of the child.
If you’re going through a child custody battle, you may want to know more about Texas laws surrounding conservatorship. A local child custody attorney can help you better understand your unique situation, and represent your interests.