If you have concerns about your former spouse’s capacity as a conservator, which is the Texas legal term for a parent or custodian, you may want to seek sole custody. This is known as a sole managing conservatorship in Texas. However, Texas courts presume that parents should be joint managing conservators, meaning both parents should have some degree of possession and decision-making power, barring special circumstances. To award a sole managing conservatorship—assuming both parents want the parental responsibilities—the court must have a good reason for denying the designation of a “joint” managing conservator to the other parent.
For what reasons might a court deny conservatorship
It may be that one parent does not wish to have custodial responsibilities. Or it may be that one of the following scenarios apply:
- The parent has a history of neglect or violence
- The parent has a history of illegal activity or substance abuse
- The parent has not been a part of the child’s life
- The parents have historically clashed over educational, medical and religious matters
Could your spouse still get visitation rights if the court denies them conservatorship?
Yes, the court considers the matters separately in Texas. While conservatorship involves providing for and making decisions for the child, the court typically grants access and visitation privileges separately through a standard possession order. It is likely that the court will grant visitation of some kind unless any interaction with the child poses risk or harm.
Joint managing conservatorships are by far the most common custody arrangement in Texas. However, in certain circumstances, it is possible to pursue sole managing conservatorship if it is in the best interest of your child. An experienced, Board-Certified Family Law expert attorney can help you navigate child custody matters for your family in Texas.