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Understanding Joint Custody vs Joint Managing Conservatorship in Texas

A father talking to his daughter with the mother in the background.

Suppose you’re a parent in Texas facing the challenging and often emotionally charged process of a contested divorce. In that case, you’ll quickly encounter legal terms such as ‘joint custody’ and ‘joint managing conservatorship.’ Gaining a clear and comprehensive understanding of these terms is not just beneficial—it’s imperative for the well-being and stability of your family’s future.

Family law in Texas requires seasoned experience, and at Skillern Firm, our team brings a collective experience of 160 years. We understand the nuances between joint custody and joint managing conservatorship, recognizing when each term is most applicable. To understand comprehensively and secure a positive future for your family, contact us at 713-229-8855. Let Skillern Firm guide you, ensuring you make informed decisions that prioritize your and your child’s best interests. Call now to learn more about how we can assist you.

Joint Custody and Joint Managing Conservatorship: Clarifying the Terms

In Texas, ‘joint custody’ and ‘joint managing conservatorship’ are terms used interchangeably to denote a shared legal relationship between parents and their child post-divorce. This arrangement allows parents to:

  • participate significantly in decisions about their child’s life
  • have equal rights and responsibilities regarding the child’s upbringing
  • have access to the child’s records and information
  • be involved in the child’s education and medical decisions

It is important to note that joint custody does not necessarily mean equal parenting time. The specific details of the arrangement can vary depending on the circumstances of the case.

In contrast, sole managing conservatorship refers to an arrangement in which one parent holds the exclusive right to make most decisions regarding the child’s life. Joint managing conservatorship, on the other hand, involves sharing these responsibilities.

Remember that even though both parents in a joint managing conservatorship can make significant decisions, one parent typically has the exclusive right to decide the child’s primary residence. The other parent, the possessory conservator, is often granted visitation rights.

Roles and Responsibilities of Joint Managing Conservators

Joint managing conservators, also known as named joint managing conservators, share a variety of responsibilities, including:

  • Making decisions related to the child’s health, education, and welfare
  • One parent usually takes on the primary caregiver role
  • The other parent, the possessory conservator, is granted visitation rights or a possession schedule, acting as one of the possessory conservators in the arrangement.

Decision-Making Authority

In a joint managing conservatorship, both parents share the task of making crucial decisions for their child, usually concerning their child’s educational status and healthcare, in collaboration with school officials.

The specific details of decision-making authority can vary based on the court order and the case’s particular circumstances. In situations where joint managing conservators can’t agree on a decision, dispute resolution mechanisms are in place.

Possession and Access

Possession and access are critical terms in child custody discussions. Possession refers to who has physical custody of the child, while access pertains to visitation or shared custody rights. The time each parent spends with the child is established through a court-ordered possession schedule.

Suppose parents can’t agree on a possession schedule. In that case, Judges typically grant a standard possession order, which allows the noncustodial parent to possess the child on certain weekends and Thursday evenings during the school year.

Sole Managing Conservatorship: When It’s Necessary

Sole managing conservatorship arises when a parent is granted the exclusive authority to make most decisions for the child. This arrangement is deemed necessary when one parent is considered unsuitable or unfit for joint custody. The judge determines how to manage conservatorship, considering factors such as the child’s best interests and the parent’s ability to decide for the child.

As a sole managing conservator, the parent is granted the exclusive right to make most decisions regarding the child and is entrusted with the responsibility of providing emotional support to the child.

Comparing Joint and Sole Managing Conservatorships

In Texas, parents who are joint-managing conservators can be classified as either joint-managing conservators or sole-managing conservators—the critical difference between the two lies in the extent of decision-making authority and responsibilities.

Joint managing conservatorship fosters cooperation and teamwork between parents, ensuring stability and consistency for the child and giving both parents equal rights and duties in decision-making. However, effective communication and collaboration among parents are required, which may lead to disagreements and conflicts.

Under sole managing conservatorship, one custodial parent assumes exclusive responsibility for the child, while the other parent might have limited duties as a possessory conservator.

Factors Influencing Conservatorship Decisions in Texas Courts

Texas courts consider several factors when deciding conservatorship. These include the child’s physical and emotional needs and preferences if the child is old enough to express them. However, the primary emphasis is always on the child’s best interests.

Another crucial factor is the parent’s ability to cooperate. Joint managing conservatorship requires a joint effort in child-rearing, leading the court to assess the parent’s ability to parent cooperatively, communicate effectively, and make joint decisions that are right for the child.

A parent’s history of abuse is also a significant factor. Instances of family violence or sexual abuse committed by a parent may result in the court limiting that parent’s access to the child to ensure the child’s safety and welfare.

Preparing for Your Child Custody Case

Prepare for a child custody case by:

  1. Understanding your rights
  2. Collecting evidence
  3. Collaborating with a seasoned family law attorney such as those at Skillern Firm
  4. Consulting with your legal representative regarding the required documentation
  5. Collaborating with the other parent, if possible
  6. Comprehending the various types of custody hearings
  7. Collecting and arranging crucial paperwork
  8. Compiling evidence to substantiate your case
  9. Maintaining communication and cooperation with the other parent

We at Skillern Firm have guided many clients through this process, helping them achieve successful outcomes under challenging circumstances. We understand that every family’s situation is unique, and we tailor our approach to each client’s specific needs and goals.

How Skillern Firm Can Help During the Legal Process

Understanding the differences between joint and sole managing conservatorship, the roles and responsibilities of conservators, and the factors that affect court decisions can empower you to make informed decisions about your child’s future.

Skillern Firm is dedicated to helping clients reach the most beneficial resolution for their legal issues. We advocate for the client’s best interests through services such as negotiation, mediation, and litigation.

We have the capabilities to handle intricate divorce cases that involve:

  • substantial assets
  • privately owned businesses
  • concealed assets
  • stock options
  • multiple properties
  • issues related to child custody

If you need family law representation in or around Houston, Sugar Land, or Katy, Texas, contact Skillern Firm by calling 713-229-8855. Take the first step towards a brighter future for your family—call us now to discover how Skillern Firm can make a positive difference in your family law matters.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does joint managing conservator mean in Texas?

Joint Managing Conservatorship (JMC) in Texas means that two or more parties share parenting rights and responsibilities for a child, including decision-making on issues like education and healthcare. It does not necessarily entail an equal split of the child’s time between the parents.

What is the difference between joint-managing conservators and sole-managing conservators?

The main difference between joint managing conservators and sole managing conservators is that one parent is granted exclusive rights and duties with sole managing conservatorship. In contrast, with joint managing conservatorship, these rights and responsibilities are shared between both parents.

How are a child’s needs and preferences considered in the conservatorship decisions made by Texas courts?

In Texas, courts consider a child’s physical and emotional needs and preferences if they’re old enough to express them, but the primary emphasis is on the child’s interests.

Can a joint managing conservatorship be modified in Texas?

Yes, a joint managing conservatorship in Texas can be modified if circumstances have changed materially and substantially since the last order was established. The requesting party must demonstrate that the modification would be ideal for the child. Common reasons for modification may include changes in a parent’s job, relocation, changes in the child’s needs, or other significant life events.

What happens if parents in a joint managing conservatorship cannot agree on a decision?

When parents who are joint managing conservators cannot agree on a decision regarding their child, they may need to utilize alternative dispute resolution methods such as mediation. If they still cannot reach an agreement, they may need to go back to court for a Judge to decide. The court order defining the conservatorship may also outline specific steps for resolving disputes to avoid repeated litigation.