Child custody is legally known as conservatorship in Texas. When parents are going through a divorce, the court may be grant either joint or sole conservatorship over the child to one or both parties. If the parents are able to come to an agreement, the court will normally incorporate its terms into its final order.
Conservatorship gives the parent or parents certain rights in making decisions on the child’s behalf. Courts operate with a general presumption that both parents should be included in decision-making and so have a presumption for awarding joint managing conservatorships. However, the presumption can be overcome in certain cases, such as when there has been a history of domestic violence or abuse, a history of substance abuse or criminal activity, parental absenteeism or a history of significant parental conflict over educational, medical or religious decisions for the child.
In a sole conservatorship, one parent will be able to make all major decisions for their child without consulting with the other parent. They can choose where the child will attend school, the doctor the child will see, medication the child will take and the religion in which he or she will be raised. If the court grants a joint conservatorship, both parents will work together to make these important decisions for their child through joint decision-making.
In most situations, even if the court grants one parent sole managing conservatorship, the other parent will still be allowed to have visitation rights as long as it is in the child’s best interests. Parents should expect, however, that in most cases, the court will grant joint conservatorship. Knowing this, it is best for parents to try to get along in order to make decisions on behalf of their child.
Source: Findlaw, “Child Custody in Texas“, November 17, 2014