Texas is a unique state in many ways — and that includes the way that the laws address child custody. While mothers and fathers are generally given an equal shake when it comes to custody, there are a few things you should know going in to the process.
The difference between possession and conservatorship
Physical custody and visitation with a child is called the “right of possession and access” in this state. The right to make major decisions on the child’s behalf, such as where they go to school, what medical care they should receive, what kind of religious instruction they should have and so on is called the “managing conservatorship.”
Generally speaking, the court prefers to make parents joint managing conservators of their children. This guarantees each parent equal authority over their child’s future. Possession and access may be divided more or less equally (making both parents joint possessory conservators) or one parent may be made the primary possessing conservator while the other is granted regular access through a visitation schedule.
Choosing between the standard way and your own way
The court will usually follow what’s known as the standard possession order when it comes to dividing up a child’s time with each parent. That may not be ideal, however, for your family’s needs — particularly if one parent has to travel often or works long hours.
If parents can agree to a schedule on their own, the court will usually permit the agreement to replace the standard possession order (as long as the agreement between the parents seems reasonable and in the child’s best interests). For that reason alone, it’s often much better for parents to work together on a custody agreement that they both find suitable.
When you’re going through a divorce, protecting your relationship with your children is one of the most important things you can do — so learn everything you can about the process and your legal options.