Your children are the most important people in your world, and you naturally want to do everything in your power to give them a good start in life — but your divorce has you worried about the future. When there are big decisions to be made about the kids, who gets the final say now that you and your spouse have split up?
It depends. In Texas, the ability to make major decisions on a child’s behalf belongs to their “managing conservator.” Regardless of which parent has actual physical custody of a child, the managing conservator calls the shots — and conservatorship can be sole (given to one parent only) or joint (shared equally by both parents).
What kinds of decisions does the managing conservator make for a child? They include:
- The right to determine the child’s primary residence
- The right to consent to medical, dental or psychiatric care for the child
- The right to direct the child’s education, religious upbringing and social activities
Those are all very big deals, indeed, but you may be comforted by the fact that the law automatically presumes that joint conservatorship is in your children’s best interests. The logic is that parents in an intact marriage would likely make those decisions jointly, and that shouldn’t change when the parents split up.
What if you don’t believe that your spouse should have equal say in these kinds of decisions? Well, the law also allows you to make a case for sole conservatorship. If you can show that judge that your spouse has been an absent parent all along, has significant problems that prevent them from being a good parent or holds ideas and values that could be detrimental to your child’s safety, you may be awarded sole managing conservatorship even if your spouse gets a share of the parenting time.
Talk over your concerns about your children with your divorce attorney as soon as possible. That way, you can make plans about how you want to approach the situation from the start.