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What is Joint Custody?

Parents who are anticipating a break-up often worry about what type of custody and visitation will be ordered by the Court. Because losing "custody" can be devastating, it is important for a parent to fully understand Texas law regarding custody. Parents often hear various titles used, and wonder about the meaning and practical effect of these various titles. Today's blog post will address the meaning of the titles used in Texas family court.

Texas law does not actually use the word "custody". Rather the potential titles a parent can be given are (1) joint managing conservator; (2) sole managing conservator; and (3) possessory conservator. Texas law creates a legal presumption that both parents should be appointed as joint managing conservators, and in the absence of abuse, neglect or non-involvement by one parent, Texas courts will routinely appoint both parents as joint managing conservators. If the Court does find evidence of abuse, neglect or non-involvement, the Court will appoint that parent as possessory conservator and the other parent as sole managing conservator.

Rights and Duties of a Joint Managing Conservator

Both joint managing conservators will general be given most of the same rights and duties of a parent, to be exercised independently and without the requirement of agreement with the other parent. However, there are four rights that are generally given to the "primary" joint managing conservator. These include (1) the exclusive right to establish the primary residence of the child; (2) the exclusive right to make educational decisions; (3) the exclusive right to make major medical decisions; and (4) the exclusive right to make psychiatric and psychological decisions. The right to make these decisions can be ordered to be contingent upon first consulting with the other parent. The right to establish and maintain the child's residence is generally restricted to a certain geographic area, such as the county of current residence or any county contiguous thereto.

If you are considering separating from the other parent of your children, you should not go down the path alone. Parents need quality legal representation for custody matters, to advocate for their rights and ensure that the best interest of the children is protected. Christiansen Law Firm has extensive experience in child custody matters. The family law attorneys of Christiansen Law Firm can meet with you and provide an analysis and recommendation for your particular situation. Contact the Houston or San Antonio offices of Christiansen Law Firm to arrange a consultation.

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