Baylor Family Law
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In Texas, Courts and Attorneys do not use the word "custody". Instead, the court ordered relationship a parent has with a child is called "conservatorship".
The Texas Family Code provides for two types of conservatorship: Sole Managing Conservatorship and Joint Managing Conservatorship. Unless there is a good reason not to, most court orders name parents Joint Managing Conservators. This often provides for the parents to share rights and duties such as decisions about the child's education, invasive medical treatment and psychological treatment. Joint Managing Conservatorship does not mean that the parents get 50-50 possession time with the child. It also does not mean that child support will be waived. "Joint" refers to the parents' ability to get along with one another well enough to make "joint" decisions. Sole Managing Conservatorship is generally reserved for special circumstances such as a history of domestic violence, child neglect, drug use or incarceration on the part of one of the parents. Whether the court orders Joint or Sole Managing Conservatorship, one parent will usually be given the right to determine the child's primary physical residence. That parent is sometimes referred to as the "primary" parent or custodial parent. State and local laws provide that the child's primary residence must be in or near the County where the child lived when the suit was filed. Seldom will a court lift this restriction if the other parent still lives in the area. This encourages consistent contact for the child with each parent.
Custody Orders also include a possession schedule ("visitation") specifically outlining each parent's time with the child. The Texas Family Code provides a Standard Possession Order for the parent who does not decide the child's primary residence. This "Standard Possession" is ordered by courts unless the parents agree to a different schedule or the court finds that it is not in the best interests of the child. If a child is under the age of three, the court has more flexibility when ordering visitation. Texas courts may also order supervised visitation, drug and alcohol testing, psychological evaluations and any other order to protect a child.