What does “Full Custody” really mean?

The Texas Family Code addresses custody of a child in three different ways: (1) whether a parent has the ability to make decisions related to the child, (2) when each parent has the right to possession of the child, and (3) child support and medical support for the child.

To some parents, “full custody” means the first item on the list: making decisions for the child, including designating where the child lives most of the time (which also usually determines where the child will go to school), being able to consent to invasive medical, dental or surgical treatment for the child, and making educational decisions related to the child.

For this parent, who wants to make all of these decisions and to not let the other parent be able to make these types of decisions, “full custody” means being appointed the sole managing conservator of the child. A sole managing conservator is the person who has the exclusive ability to make decisions related to the child, absent life-threatening and emergency circumstances.

Modifying to “Full Custody”

When a prior custody arrangement is no longer working, a parent can ask the court to modify the previous orders.
Generally, a suit to modify requires two things: (1) a material and substantial change in circumstances of one of the parties affected by the order or the child, and (2) that the requested modifications are in the child’s best interest.


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