Texas parents contemplating a divorce may be confused by the legal terminology surrounding custody of their children. While the words may be different, the meanings are essentially the same as traditional child custody terminology.
For example, the Lone Star state refers to child custody as ‘conservatorship,” and parents or guardians are ‘conservators.” And, just as elsewhere, if the parents can’t agree on a custody plan, a judge will decide for them. Conservatorship allows both parents access to information about their child, including medical and school records as well as talk to officials about each.
There are two types of conservatorship: joint managing, as in joint custody, and sole management, as in sole custody of a child. In a joint conservatorship, the judge decides what responsibilities each parent has. Visitation, or possession, will be decided in a separate order, so parents may not get equal time with a child.
In a sole managing conservatorship, one parent will be allowed to make certain decisions regarding the child. This parent has the right to decide on where the child will live. Other decisions include the child’s education and medical treatment. Child support still goes by the traditional name, and the non-custodial parent who is ordered to pay it must do so until the child turns 18, perhaps longer if the child is disabled. Conservatorship issues can be just as complicated in Texas as in other states. If parents cannot agree on a parenting plan then a court will make decisions for them. In order to avoid this, family law attorneys may recommend mediation to their clients as an alternative.