Custody and Conservatorship

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In Texas, the word conservatorship refers to custody and parental rights. Parents can either be joint managing conservators or one parent may be designated the sole managing conservator. The parent commonly thought of as the custodial parent has the right to designate the primary residence of the child. The parent that has visitation is referred to as the possessory conservator.

While a court order may state that the parties are joint managing conservators and imply that many of the parental rights are shared by the parents, the order may assign so many rights to one particular parent that the order is in effect an order that designates a sole managing conservator in all but name. Furthermore, the rights of conservatorship may be apportioned among the parents in various ways, including being subject to the input of the non-exercising parent despite being award to the other parent. Therefore, the best way to understand the specifics of any proposed court order or settlement agreement is to carefully review the assignment of these rights.

In the vast majority of orders, parents can agree to deviate from the order. This provides parents with the flexibility to trade visitation weekends and otherwise deviate from the visitation order. However, such agreements depend on the ability of the parties to find common ground. Therefore, a good order regarding conservatorship should provide a functioning framework for parents during times of discord, and hopefully separated parents will eventually learn to co-parent and cooperate despite past discord and their separation.

List of Parental Rights and Duties

Below is a list of the rights and duties that are granted in orders related to children:

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(1) the right to designate the primary residence of the child;

(2) the right to consent to medical, dental, and surgical treatment involving invasive procedures;

(3) the right to consent to psychiatric and psychological treatment;

(4) the right to receive and give receipt for periodic payments for the support of the child and to hold or disburse these funds for the benefit of the child;

(5) the right to represent the child in legal action and to make other decisions of substantial legal significance concerning the child;

(6) the right to consent to marriage and to enlistment in the armed forces of the United States;

(7) the right to make decisions concerning the child's education;

(8) the right to the services and earnings of the child;

(9) except when a guardian of the child's estate or a guardian or attorney ad litem has been appointed for the child, the right to act as an agent of the child in relation to the child's estate if the child's action is required by a state, the United States, or a foreign government;

(10) the right to have physical possession and to direct the moral and religious training of the child;

(11) the duty of care, control, protection, and reasonable discipline of the child;

(12) the duty to provide the child with clothing, food, shelter, education, and medical, psychological, and dental care;

(13) the right to consent for the child to medical, psychiatric, psychological, dental, and surgical treatment and to have access to the child's medical records;

(14) to receive information from any other conservator of the child concerning the health, education, and welfare of the child;

(15) to confer with the other parent to the extent possible before making a decision concerning the health, education, and welfare of the child;

(16) of access to medical, dental, psychological, and educational records of the child;

(17) to consult with a physician, dentist, or psychologist of the child;

(18) to consult with school officials concerning the child's welfare and educational status, including school activities;

(19) to attend school activities;

(20) to be designated on the child's records as a person to be notified in case of an emergency;

(21) to consent to medical, dental, and surgical treatment during an emergency involving an immediate danger to the health and safety of the child; and

(22) to manage the estate of the child to the extent the estate has been created by the parent or the parent's family.

Paternity Cases and Suits Affecting the Parent-child Relationship

Unmarried couples that have children will require an order that establishes the following:

Child Support


Divorces with Minor Children

Below are relevant resources for divorces that include minor children:

Child Support


The Community Property System

Marital Debts

Reimbursement Claims