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Understanding the Texas child custody process

On Behalf of | Sep 29, 2020 | Child Custody |

Texas uses the term conservatorship to describe the right to make decisions for a child. By default, both parents have conservatorship without a court order stating otherwise. The state refers to physical child custody as possession, which also requires a court order.

When facing divorce, review the laws governing child possession and conservatorship in Texas.

Sole and joint conservatorship

In most cases, parents will share managing conservatorship. With this arrangement, they can both contribute to important decisions on the child’s behalf. However, Texas courts also name one parent who will decide on the child’s primary residence; he or she has legal possession. The judge can limit the geographic area where the child can reside. The court typically awards sole managing conservatorship only in cases involving parental abandonment, violence, neglect or abuse.

The legal process

When both parents agree on conservatorship and possession of their children, they can ask the court to approve their agreement during the divorce proceedings. When they do not agree, the judge will decide depending on the child’s best interests. Generally, the parent who does not have possession will receive standard visitation, which includes:

  • Extended school vacations
  • One weeknight every week
  • Specific holidays
  • The first, third and fifth weekend each month

Texas does not allow the parent who has possession to withhold court-ordered visitation from the other parent because of the nonpayment of child support. Failure to abide by a child conservatorship and possession agreement can result in contempt of court charges. State law establishes equal custody rights for Texas parents regardless of their gender.