Joint Managing Conservatorships Vs. Sole Managing Conservatorships

Under the Texas Family Code, parents may be appointed as joint managing conservators either by agreement or by court order. There is a rebuttable presumption that naming parents as joint managing conservators is in the best interest of the child. However, if a court finds a history of family violence involving the parents or that appointment of the parents as joint managing conservators would not be in the best interest of the child, one parent may be appointed sole managing conservator of the child, with the other a possessory conservator.

Joint managing conservators, sole managing conservators and possessory conservators have rights and duties regarding a child as allocated under the Texas Family Code. Those rights include, but are not limited to, the right to designate the primary residence of the child.

How you handle child-related matters in a divorce will greatly influence your child's life and best interests. Our goal at The Webb Family Law Firm, P.C., is it to make sure your child is protected and your rights as a parent are upheld so your family can enjoy positive relationships post-divorce. Contact us today for experienced representation.

How You And Your Spouse Share Parental Responsibilities

Parenting is about guidance and quality time with a child. It is also about making important decisions about a child's health, education, legal rights, etc. In Texas, there is a presumption that parents should share these rights and responsibilities. For example:

  • Consenting to medical care, including dental care, physical check-ups, invasive procedures, psychological care, psychiatric evaluations and other mental health needs
  • Accessing medical records and information about the welfare of the child either from medical professionals or from the other parent conservator
  • Making decisions and/or consulting with school officials about the child's educational status, participation in school activities, disciplinary actions, educational services the child needs, etc.
  • Representing the child in legal actions or making decisions that are of legal significance for the child's welfare and best interests

Joint Managing Conservatorships (JMCs)

Through a JMC, both parents are awarded legal rights and responsibilities like those listed above. In some cases, certain rights may be awarded to one parent and not to the other. These special circumstances usually arise because of each parent's unique relationship with the child or the nature of decision-making between the parents.

A joint managing conservator who is granted the exclusive right to designate the primary residence of the child may be referred to as the "custodial" or "primary" parent, as this parent determines where the child will live. The other joint managing conservator may be referred to as the "noncustodial" or "nonprimary" parent. This parent typically has the right to possession and access to the child, probably under the terms of the Standard Possession Order set forth in the Texas Family Code (for example, 1 st, 3 rd and 5 th weekends of each month throughout the year and either two hours or overnight on Thursday of each week during the child's regular school term).

Sole Managing Conservatorships (SMCs)

Through an SMC, rights and duties are allocated to both parents, but the parent appointed as sole managing conservator is granted a list of exclusive rights, including but not limited to the exclusive right to designate the child's primary residence and exclusive right to consent to medical, dental, and surgical treatment involving invasive procedures.

This appointment might occur if a court finds a history of family violence involving the parents or that appointment of the parents as joint managing conservators would not be in the best interest of the child (if a parent has a history of violence, substance abuse, neglect, criminal activity, etc.). A parent appointed as possessory conservator may still have the right to possession and access of the child, although that access may be restricted or limited in order to protect the child's best interest.

Our Firm Can Help You Establish A Plan That Works For Your Family

Attorneys Brian L. Webb and Natalie Webb are both board-certified in family law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. They can walk you through the legal process and outline your options in this complex area of law so that your family has the tools needed to provide a positive future for your child(ren).

Contact our office in Dallas, Texas, online or by telephone at 972-863-0279 to arrange a consultation with an experienced family lawyer at The Webb Family Law Firm, P.C.