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What's a 'managing conservator' in Texas?

When parents go through a divorce, they usually have lots of questions related to their children -- particularly regarding the rules about custody. In Texas, one of the most important things divorcing couples need to understand is the role of the "managing conservator" in their children's lives.

Managing conservatorship is the term given to the right a parent hold to make most major decisions for their children. Following a divorce, the court can award either joint managing conservatorship -- giving both parents equal say -- or sole managing conservatorship which gives only one parent the right to make those calls.

Here are the abilities granted to a managing conservator:

  • The right to decide the child's primary residence
  • The ability to obtain and consent to medical care, surgery, dental care or psychological treatment for the child
  • The ability to direct the child's moral and religious instruction
  • The ability to make decisions about the child's education, including things like whether to home school the child or agree to an individual education plan (IEP)
  • The ability to access the child's medical, psychological and educational records at will

Needless to say, managing conservatorship of the kids is a very big deal -- but you generally don't have to worry about being shut out of the important decisions in your child's life. Why? Because Texas law presumes that it's in a child's best interest to keep both parents actively involved in their lives as much as possible.

It is true that your spouse can try to sway the court away from that presumption, but they have to have a pretty good reason to win. If you've never done anything to make the court question your parenting, you probably don't have a lot to worry about. Just the same, you should tak the issue of child custody over with your representative carefully.

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