CHILD CUSTODY IN TEXAS: WHAT DOES CUSTODY MEAN?
Child Custody Language:
The Texas Family Code does not address “custody” per se but, instead, uses “conservatorship.” Custody and conservatorship are interchangeable terms. Conservatorship is simply a legal term that the Texas employs to delineate who has the legal rights and responsibilities regarding the children.
Conservatorship in Texas:
In Texas, there are two distinct kinds of conservatorship– Joint managing conservatorship (JMC) and Sole managing conservatorship (SMC). Joint custody doesn’t necessarily mean sharing time equally between both parents. In most cases, parents share the rights and responsibilities of parenting their children. Sole managing conservatorship is rare. Sole managing conservatorship is usually considered when the children may be in danger or neglected by the other parent.
The Custodial and Noncustodial Parent:
Within conservatorship, there is the custodial parent and the noncustodial parent. If you are determined to be the custodial parent, your home will be your children’s primary home and the other parent will become the noncustodial parent. Your children’s noncustodial parent will have a visitation schedule with the kids and will most likely pay child support. Therefore, if you and the other parent ultimately share Joint managing conservatorship, you will both share the rights and responsibilities of parenting, but your children will reside primarily with you.
The Court’s Concern: Child’s Best Interest:
When it comes to conservatorship, the court’s concern is always what’s in the children’s best interests. All things being equal – or being relatively equal – the court’s presumption is that joint managing conservatorship is in the best interest of the children. Divorce is difficult adults, but it even more difficult for children. Having both parents closely involved in their lives helps children transition into their changed circumstances with less stress and anxiety and helps ensure a brighter future for all involved.