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What Is Joint Custody?


When parents split up, questions often arise regarding custody, rights and duties of parents, visitation rights and child support.  Often, parents are confused about the various titles a Court may give and the meaning of that title.  "Joint custody" is a term that many people use but which most people misunderstand.  This week's blog will define the parental titles used in Texas and the meaning of those titles.


Texas law does not actually use the term "joint custody".  Rather, the legal title is actually "joint managing conservator".  The appointment of both parents as joint managing conservators is presumed to be in the best interest of the children.  Either parent may rebut the presumption that the other parent should be appointed joint managing conservator.  If the Judge agrees, one parent is named as "sole managing conservator" and the other parent is named as "possessory conservator".   Except in unusual cases, most parents in Texas are named as joint managing conservators.   Unusual cases include rape of the other parent, or abuse, neglect or abandonment of the children.   


The titles actually don't matter as much as many people think.  Whether the parties are named as joint managing conservators or as sole managing conservator and possessory conservator, the Court still must assign the rights and duties to each parent, one parent will still have the exclusive right to establish the primary residence of the children, and the "non-primary" parent will still have specific visitation rights.   


Both joint managing conservators are typically given the right to access medical and school records, attend school events, consent to medical treatment, communicate with teachers, provide for the health, safety and education of the children during that parent's periods of possession, and direct the religious decisions during periods of possession.  The "primary" joint managing conservator typically has the exclusive right to determine the children's primary residence, make major medical decisions, make educational decisions and receive child support.  It is very common for Courts to restrict the "primary" joint managing conservator's right to establish the residence to a specific geographic area, such as the current county of residence or any county contiguous to it.  

If you are considering separating from the other parent of your children, you don't have to go through the journey alone.  Individuals need quality legal representation in child custody matters, to advocate for their rights and for the best interest of their children.  Christiansen Law Firm assists clients in child custody matters in the Houston and San Antonio areas. The family law attorneys of Christiansen Law Firm have significant experience handling child custody matters, and can ensure that you are able to maximize your chances of winning custody.  Contact the offices of Christiansen Law Firm in Houston or San Antonio to arrange a complementary consultation.

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