Texas law uses the term “conservator” to denote an individual who has custody of a minor child. A conservator has certain rights and privileges related to the child, but there are also legal responsibilities that must be fulfilled. In a divorce, the choice of who has the conservatorship may made by both parents jointly filing a custody plan, or it may be decided by the court.
Texas law recognizes two types of conservatorship, joint managing and sole managing, but the courts will usually attempt to set up the former as it is the preferred outcome in most cases. However, even in shared parenting situations, certain privileges and responsibilities will usually be reserved for one parent or another. For example, in most circumstances, the child will live with one parent or the other. A visitation schedule, also known as a standard possession order, can be imposed by a judge or a equitable sharing of possession, and access can be worked out between the parents.
If there is a question of support payments, then the parent who does not live with the child will most often be the one ordered to pay child support. It is also possible, in situations where one of the parents appears dramatically unstable or harmful to the children, that a sole managing conservatorship may be bestowed on only one parent. In some cases, visitation may even be denied.
People who wish to modify the terms of the conservatorship of their child might be wise to consult a lawyer for advice. The lawyer may be able to help in negotiations with the other parent. In the event that the decision must go to court, the lawyer could also represent a parent in court proceedings.
Source: Findlaw, “Child Custody in Texas“, August 28, 2014