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Some basic things to know about child custody in Texas

Child custody plans can be made in court or out of court. If the parents are unable to come to an agreement on their own, then a judge will establish the terms of the arrangement. If the parents do agree on a plan out of court, then the agreement will have to be put in writing for the court's approval.

In Texas, child custody is known as conservatorship. A person who has been named as conservator has parental rights. Texas law recognizes two types of conservatorship: joint managing conservatorship and sole managing conservatorship. Let's discuss the differences.

In Texas, the law presumes that joint managing conservatorship (JMC) is the best arrangement for the child. With JMC, both parents have parental rights, though one parent may be solely responsible for making certain kinds of decisions. One parent may also have more access to the child. When both parents are named as conservators, each parent's responsibilities will be specified by the judge.

Our child custody overview has more on the possible custody variations under joint managing conservatorship.

With sole managing conservatorship (SMC), only one parent is given certain parental rights. A court may grant SMC for a variety of reasons. If one parent has a history of drug abuse, alcohol abuse, neglect, violence or criminal activity, then a court may grant the other parent sole managing conservatorship. A parent may also be given SMC if the other parent doesn't want custody or has otherwise not been a part of the child's life.

In general, child custody arrangements are based on what is in the child's best interests. When disputes arise over how to protect those interests, parents may need the help of a skilled litigator to reach a resolution.

Source: FindLaw, "Child Custody in Texas," Accessed Sept. 5, 2014

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