The Daly Campbell Law Firm’s has provided countless families knowledge and experience in the fields of divorce and child custody. Their passion for people allows them to understand how emotionally charged process of establishing a child custody order, modifying child custody, and enforcing child custody. They provide their clients with dedicated and thoughtful advocacy built on years of trial experience in order to help their clients through the child custody process.
There are three types of conservatorship: joint managing conservator, sole managing conservator, and possessory conservator.
The law presumes that the parents being appointed as joint managing conservators are in the best interest of the children unless this would “significantly impair the child’s physical health or emotional development”. An example is if there is a history of family violence. With joint managing conservatorship comes rights and duties. These however can be limited by the court if in the best interest of the child. It is important to note that joint managing conservatorship does not mean equal time with the child or that one parent will not be required to pay child support.
Each conservator of a child has a duty to inform the other conservator of the child in a timely manner of significant information concerning the health, education, and welfare of the child.
If it is determined that joint management is not in the best interest of the child then it is presumed that one parent should be appointed as sole managing conservator.
If a parent is not appointed as a managing conservator, then it is presumed in the best interest of the child that the parent be named a possessory conservator. However, the court may find this would not be in child’s best interest.
When the parents have been appointed as joint managing conservators hopefully the parents can agree on the primary residence of the child. The court will support this agreement if it is in the best interest of the child. If the parents cannot agree then the decision of the primary residence will be based on the best interest of the child. The child may express their opinion if they have one if they are 12 or older however their opinion is only a consideration and not determinate. If one parent is appointed a the sole managing conservator then it is that parent’s sole decision as to where the child will reside. It is presumed in the best interest of the child that the parent who is the non-resident joint managing conservator or is a possessory conservator receive a standard possession order unless the parents can agree otherwise.
The court will first determine whether the parents have agreed to the terms of possession. If the parents cannot agree then the law provides that the standard possessor order is in the best interest of the child. The Texas Family Code goes into extreme detail regarding the SPO. Generally, the parent is entitled to a child on the first, third and fifth weekends of each month, alternate major holidays, an equal amount of time at Christmas and at least 30 days during the summer. If the parents live more than 100 miles apart, the summer visitation is extended to 42 days, and each spring school vacation is awarded to the non-resident parent. If a child is less than three years old, the court can consider the standard schedule or less time if appropriate. Parties may enter into an agreement regarding child support. If there is not such agreement, child support may ordered when it is determined to be in the best interest of the child. Customarily, the non-custodial parent, whether or not named as a possessory conservator, is ordered to pay child support to the custodial parent. A joint managing conservator not having the primary custody of a child (not given the power to designate the residence of the child) can be required to pay child support. One thing to note is that child support is not conditioned on access to the child or visitation.
A child custody order may be modified if circumstances have materially and substantially changed.