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The child custody and visitation system in Texas-Part I

No matter where divorce happens, children are often the ones who suffer most when couples divorce. The uncertainty about the future can make children extremely anxious. For the parents, certain issues regarding their children can create anger and bitterness, especially when those issues are related to child custody and child support. Fortunately, Texas courts, like those in every state, use the standard of meeting children's best interests when it comes to granting child custody to one parent and requiring child support from the other.

In Texas, the term "conservatorship" is used to describe parental rights and responsibilities for children. The state defines two types of conservatorship: sole managing and joint managing. Joint managing conservatorship is presumed to meet the best interests of child more than sole managing conservatorship. In neither type of conservatorship are the parents' sex or marital status considered.

If there is evidence of violence against a child, however, the best interests of the child mandate that a court deny both sole custody or conservatorship and managing conservatorship to the parent who has committed violence against the child. In fact, though, parents are only rarely given sole managing conservatorship or sole custody. When a court does grant a parent sole managing conservatorship, he or she acquires superior rights in raising the child and can make all decisions on the child's behalf.

The parent who has sole managing conservatorship can decide where the child lives and what sort of medical treatment can be provided. He or she also has the right to receive child support payments from the other parent. The parent can also allow or deny an underage child to enlist in the military, decide whether the child can take a job, and whether the child can apply for a passport.

Source: TexasBar.com, "Custody/Conservatorship," accessed March 31, 2015.

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