The words “conservator” and “conservatorship” can be confusing terms for parents struggling through child custody proceedings. The two terms sound like something you might hear from an estate planning attorney rather than a family law attorney, but the explanation is rather straightforward.
In Texas, the courts refer to the custodial parent as the child’s conservator. The courts use the term conservatorship simply as a word describing the parent’s responsibilities and rights. Other than these terminology variations, Texas child support laws are much like the laws in most states. For example, the main goal during any Texas child support legal proceeding is to answer the best interests of the child; a standard that all American states rely on in determining child custody.
Texas offers two types of conservatorships to divorcing parents: A joint managing conservatorship and a single managing conservatorship.
A JMC is like a joint custody agreement parents might use in other states. It means that both parents will share in the duties and the rights of parenthood. However, a JMC might not mean equal custody of the child. Rather Texas courts typically create the actual custody and visitation arrangement in a separate procedure called a standard possession order.
In an SMC arrangement, only one parent will hold the legal right to make many decisions affecting the child. These decisions include health care treatment, primary residence and education. The courts usually prefer a JMC arrangement but in some situations may choose to order an SMC instead. Some of these situations occur when one parent has a violent background or a history of criminal activity.
The main point to remember is that although the terms may not be familiar, Texas holds the wellbeing and safety of children as the most important factor in determining custody. Parents in the Tarrant and Fort Worth area who want to make the strongest case possible in the determination of conservatorship would benefit from the help of a local divorce attorney.
Source: FindLaw, “Child Custody in Texas,” accessed June 08, 2015