Most parents that come in for a consultation with us ask how they can get “primary custody” or “sole custody” of their children. While this is a reasonable and expected question in a parent’s mind, the legal term in the Texas Family Code is conservatorship. One parent is usually given the exclusive right to designate the primary residence of the children, thereby being considered the “primary” parent.
The term conservatorship encompasses many other rights, duties and obligations of the parents beyond the issue of the children’s primary residence. The presumption in Texas is that parents will be named Joint Managing Conservators and will therefore make decisions jointly, such as whether a child should have an elective surgery or receive psychological treatment. However, there are some cases where one parent is named the Sole Managing Conservator and the other parent is named the Possessory Conservator. Those designations are typically reserved for the very high conflict relationships, or in a case where one parent has significant mental health or substance abuse problems.
There are an unlimited number of variations within the issue of conservatorship. Our firm works to find a structure that works best for our client and their family. As mediators and litigators, our attorneys have negotiated and formulated an infinite number of conservatorship structures for our clients and mediation parties.