Across Texas, families must make legal decisions every day regarding possession and conservatorship of their children. Texas Laws on Conservatorship and Possession empower each parent with rights and duties in caring for their minor children.
Clients at any Texas family law firm may be familiar with common custodial arrangements but often fail to recognize that Conservatorship specifications (whether you are sole managing conservator, joint managing conservator, or possessory conservator) detail much more than just who has custody of a child. Conservatorship arrangements give parents the power to make educational, medical, psychological, psychiatric and religious decisions for their child. Further, any parent granted Conservator status has a duty to care for, control, and protect the child during their respective periods of possession. The information following will shed light on what it means to have a possessory conservatorship in Texas.
What is a Possessory Conservator?
If a parent is not named sole or joint managing conservator, the law requires the Court to name him/her a Possessory Conservator unless:
- Visitation with the parent is not in the child’s best interest; or
- Visitation would endanger the child’s emotional, mental, or physical welfare
This generally means that parents are only denied Possessory Conservatorship with a history of abuse, neglect, substance abuse, etc. If a non-parent is named Managing Conservator, often both parents become Possessory Conservators. Possessory conservators have a right to some form of possession and access of the child, though the child does not live with them primarily. Managing and Possessory Conservatorship determinations can be made in the courtroom or through outside agreement by the parties and their respective counsel. This takes place through processes like mediation and the formation of parenting plans.
The Rights of a Possessory Conservator
A possessory conservator has a plethora of rights to and regarding their child. Under Texas Law, these include the rights to:
- Receive information about the child’s health and education
- Access medical and educational information about the child
- Attend the child’s school and extracurricular activities
- Be listed as the child’s emergency contact
- Speak to educational or treating medical professionals involved with the child
- Consent to medical, dental, or surgical treatment during a medical emergency during periods of possession
- Direct moral and religious training of the child during periods of possession
Similarly, a parent with a possessory conservatorship maintains a duty to:
- Care for, control protect, and reasonably discipline the child during periods of possession
- Support the child by providing clothing, food, shelter, and noninvasive medical care, if necessary
It is important to mention that a court can restrict any of these rights and duties if a determination is made that it would not be in the child’s best interest for a possessory conservator to maintain any of these rights and duties.
The Difference Between Managing and Possessory Conservatorship in Texas
One of the biggest determinations for a court (or the parties) to make in a custody dispute is that of managing vs. possessory conservatorship. Texas law promotes the child’s best interest as the primary consideration in making custody and visitation decisions. It is meant to be a guiding principle in the litigation and mediation processes. Managing Conservators, whether sole or joint, are tasked with making important decisions for the child. A sole managing conservator has certain exclusive rights as it relates to the child and does not have to consult with the possessory conservator prior to making certain decisions. These include but are not limited to making non-emergent medical decisions, psychological decisions, educational decisions and psychiatric decisions on behalf of the child. As it is presumed parents should be named joint managing conservators of their children, a court only orders a parent to be a possessory conservator when it is in the best interest of the child to do so.
Joint Managing Conservatorship is favored as the policy behind Texas law to promote healthy parent-child relationships. As joint managing conservators, parents are entitled to possession and access of the child as well as decision-making power in some form or fashion in educational, medical, psychological, psychiatric and religious scenarios. Possessory conservators, on the other hand, are entitled to possession of the child and access to the child’s educational and medical records, as well as the other rights and duties listed above.
This is only a brief overview of Texas conservatorship law regarding possessory conservators. If you have questions and want to know more about your rights, call and schedule a consultation at Scroggins Law Group today.