There are a lot of moving parts when discussing conservatorship in Texas. These include presumptions under the law and some confusing terminology. When you have questions about conservatorship and what is likely to happen based on the particular facts of your matter, contact an experienced professional at Scroggins Law Group, PLLC.
What is Joint Managing Conservator?
It is presumed in Texas that parents should be named Joint Managing Conservators of their children. Does that mean the parents share equal rights and duties? No. Are parents always named Joint Managing Conservators? No.
When biological or adoptive parents are appointed as Joint Managing Conservators, they share the parental rights, duties, and decision-making powers concerning their children as laid out under Texas Law. As opposed to Sole Managing Conservatorship, joint managing conservators are each vested with certain decision-making power as it pertains to the best interest of their children. A joint managing conservator shares possession and access to the child, although not equally in most cases. Courts may designate one parent with the exclusive right to determine the primary domicile of the child. Joint managing conservators are also vested with rights and duties to control educational, medical, psychological, psychiatric and religious decision-making on behalf of the children. Once again, these are not necessarily vested equally in each parent conservator.
Rights of a Joint Managing Conservator in Texas
During their respective period of possession, unless otherwise ordered by the Court, a Joint Managing Conservator has the right to:
- Receive health, education, and welfare information from another conservator
- Confer with the other parent before making health, education, and welfare decisions regarding the child
- Access medical, dental, psychological, and educational records of the child
- Consult with a physician, dentist, psychologist, or school official of the child
- Attend school activities of the child
- Be designated as an emergency contact for the child
- Consent to medical, dental, and surgical treatment for the child in an emergent situation
- Direct moral and religious training of the child
Additionally, any parent Joint Managing Conservator has the duty, during periods of possession, to:
- Exercise care, control, protection, and reasonable discipline for their child; and
- Support the child, including providing food, shelter, and medical care not involving invasive procedures
The term, “Father’s Rights” has become a bit of a hot button in Texas Family Law. While men can find themselves at a disadvantage during conservatorship proceedings, any family law firm who knows what they are doing should tell you that fathers have the same rights, duties and obligations, to their children as mothers.
By law in Texas, a court cannot use gender as a factor in determining conservatorship of a child. Fathers can petition for sole managing conservatorship or joint managing conservatorship of their child. If granted, fathers will have all the rights and duties, including those awarded exclusively, as any other parent conservator.
Under Texas Law, Mother’s rights are akin to that of fathers. There are absolutely no differences in treatment of one gender over the other under the law. Any Texas Family Law Firm should tell you that mothers, like fathers, have same rights and duties to their children when they become conservators. Mothers can petition for sole or joint managing conservatorship of their child. If granted, mothers are subject to the same laws of conservatorship as fathers. There should be no difference in ruling based on status as a mother as opposed to a father.
From a practical standpoint, do certain courts seem to lean toward fathers while others lean toward mothers? Absolutely. And, that is why it is important to choose a Texas family law firm that is aware of these tendencies.
Grandparents are not placed on equal footing with parents. As a matter of fact, grandparents have very limited rights to their grandchildren in Texas as parents are presumed to make decisions that are in the best interest of their children. So, if a parent decides that a grandparent should not be able to spend time with their grandchild, it is presumed that is a sound decision made by the parent.
That being said, there are times when a court will grant access to a grandparent. There are also scenarios in which a grandparent may be named a conservator of a child. However, it is unlikely a court will grant such a request unless there is a history that indicates significant physical or emotional harm will be done to the child if they stay in their current living situation. From a practical standpoint, the situations that most often see grandparents involved, from a legal standpoint, with their grandchildren is when a parent or both parents of the children suffer from severe drug and/or alcohol addiction or severe mental health issues that are untreated.
Is Joint Managing Conservator the same as Joint Custody?
No. “Joint custody” is a bit of a misnomer. Custody consists of two pieces, conservatorship and possession and access. Possession and access is exactly what it sounds like; the amount of time that you and the other parent or conservator have with the children. Conservatorship is all about the rights and duties that you share with the other parent or conservator concerning child-rearing decisions to be made,
While a Joint Managing Conservatorship automatically entails making custodial arrangements for the child, a conservatorship means so much more than possession and access. Being a managing conservator vests a parent or other person with rights and duties not applicable to other individuals that have only obtained a right to possession. For example, a parent may be able to see their child every Tuesday and Thursday, but they cannot decide where their child will live (primarily), go to school, or whether they will receive a certain vaccine.
The attorneys and staff at Scroggins Law Group contain numerous board certified family law specialists that are available to help you find the best solution for your particular matter. If you have questions about conservatorship or child custody in general, set up a consultation with one of our experienced attorneys today.