The Texas family code does not use the term “custody” in describing a parent’s legal relationship with a child, but instead uses the term “conservatorship”. Instead of referring to a parent as the “custodian,” Texas courts refer to the parent as the “conservator.”
Understanding the Different Types of Child Conservatorship:
Conservatorship falls into two distinct categories – Joint Managing Conservatorship and Sole Managing Conservatorship.
JOINT MANAGING CONSERVATORSHIP (JMC)
Means that both parents share the rights and responsibilities regarding decision making of a child’s education, medical treatment, religious upbringing and similar issues. It is important to note that the Texas courts use the legal standard of “what is in the best interest of the child”, and therefore may still award an exclusive right to make certain decisions to one parent only.
SOLE MANAGING CONSERVATORSHIP (SMC)
Means that the court has granted only one parent the legal right to make certain decisions concerning the child. The court grants SMC when there is a good reason to do so (such as cases involving domestic violence or child abuse). With an order of SMC, a court can limit or take away the noncustodial parent’s access to the child as well as the right to make decisions concerning the child.
Refers to the legal authority to make major decisions on behalf of a minor child. Those major decisions govern the areas of education, religion, and non-emergency medical decisions.
CUSTODY ORDERS/STANDARD POSSSSION ORDER (SPO)
Custody orders refer to the parenting time and access and possession, which is the same as visitation. Most custody orders include a Standard Possession Order (SPO) that sets the schedule for each parent’s time with the child.
Physical custody means “possession” in the state of Texas. A parent who has been granted physical custody is called the “possessory conservator” and the child resides with that parent for at least 35 percent of the year.