Divorcing with a minor child is difficult for parents in Texas and elsewhere. The last thing a parent wants to do is to disrupt the life and well-being of their child. However, being in a high conflict marriage or a relationship that no longer works can also be detrimental to a child. It is important that divorcing parents understand how to best address the matter and what would be in the best interests of their child, as joint custody is not always best in the situation.

In Texas, child custody is referred to conservatorship, and a parent is referred to a conservator instead of a custodian. Unless both parents agree, a family law judge will need to determine conservatorship. There are two types in Texas: joint managing conservatorship and sole managing conservatorship. Either both parents have the legal right to get information and make decisions about the health, education and welfare of the child, or only one parent is granted all of these rights.

There are a few reasons why a court would grant sole managing conservatorship over joint managing conservatorship, including situations in which one parent has a history of family violence or neglect, has a history of drug use, alcohol abuse or other criminal activity, has been absent from the child’s life or there is a history of extreme conflict between the parents over education, medical and religious values.

In Texas, visitation is referred to as possession and access to a child. A parent is afforded possession and access to their child unless the judge determines it is not in the best interests of the child, as it will endanger the physical or emotional well-being on the child. If parents cannot agree on a standard possession schedule, the judge will order a schedule.

No matter your situation or your end goal, it is important to fully understand your matter at hand. In the end, what matters the most is that the best interests of the child are met. Taking the time to understand what this means can help you establish a custody plan that also meets your needs as a parent.