What Does Joint Custody Mean in Texas?

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by | Feb 23, 2024

Forms of Child Custody in Texas

In Texas, child custody means something different than it does in other states. Texas law makes a distinction between legal custody and physical custody.

  • Conservatorship: This is considered legal custody and means a person has the right to make crucial decisions pertaining to the children. When parents share the right to make decisions for their children, they have a joint managing conservatorship.
  • Possession/Access: This is considered physical custody, and the child’s primary residence, which the parent has visitation rights, and what the visitation schedule will be is agreed upon by the parents or decided by a family law judge in family court.

In Texas, parents can be granted a sole managing conservatorship (also known as sole custody or full custody) or joint managing conservatorship (also known as joint custody) with specific modifications outlined in parenting plans agreed to by the parents.

How Joint Custody Works in Texas

Many view being awarded a joint managing conservatorship as having joint or shared custody. Typically, a child’s parents are named joint managing conservators, meaning that all parenthood rights and duties will be shared equally between the parents. However, the family law judge is still required to create a court order that specifies the following:

  • Any rights and/or duties granted exclusively to one parent.
  • Any rights and/or duties parents can exercise independently.
  • Any responsibilities and/or privileges that necessitate a mutual decision by both parents.

In Texas, the law presumes each parent in a joint managing conservatorship will act in their child’s best interests. A joint managing conservatorship does not.

Texas law assumes that in a joint managing conservatorship, both parents will make decisions that are in the best interest of the child. However, just because parents are in a joint managing conservatorship, it does not automatically mean that both parents will have equal physical possession of their child. In some cases, the court might decide that equally shared parenthood rights and duties are in the child’s best interests while equally shared physical possession is not.

Parental Rights Under a Child Custody Arrangement in Texas

Specific parental rights have been established under Texas family law. When parents share custody in a joint managing conservatorship, each parent has the right to:

  • give consent for medical courses of treatment for their child
  • obtain all of their child’s health care information
  • talk with any of their child’s medical providers about any issues
  • have access to their child’s education records
  • obtain any information about their child’s education
  • have their opinion considered in any decisions about sports and extracurricular activities

Parenting Decisions Affected by Joint Custody

When parents have been awarded joint custody, each parent has a say in all major decisions that will impact their child or children. These decisions include:

  • education
  • medical care
  • psychiatric decisions
  • religious upbringing

Is Joint Custody the Best Choice?

When parents are involved in a child custody battle, they often wonder if joint custody is the best choice for everyone involved and in the best interests of their child. As with anything else, there are pros and cons, and parents must be aware of all options and carefully weigh each one.

Pros of Joint Custody

  • Both parents share responsibility, which can reduce stress.
  • If the relationship between the parents is not strained, co-parenting can positively affect the child.

Cons of Joint Custody

  • If the relationship between the parents is strained, this state of affairs can negatively affect the child.
  • The child does not have one home. Because of this, they’ll be forced to go back and forth between two homes.
  • Separate living situations mean two things. This can be confusing, expensive, and stressful.

When Is Joint Custody a Good Idea?

Joint custody is a good idea if:

  • both parents are readily available and present
  • both parents have a solid history of being involved in their child’s activities and care
  • both parents can maintain open communication with each other without hostility or aggression
  • both parents have worked together successfully in the past

While joint custody may sound like a good idea, parents should be aware that if any harmful physical or emotional issues are at play, joint custody might not be in the best interests of the child, and one of a family law judge’s responsibilities is to ensure the best interests of the child are met.

Advocating for Joint Custody in a Custody Battle

Should the other parent of your child pursue sole custody, you might have to counter their allegations in court. To do so, you must show that you are capable of caring for your child and that joint custody would be in the child’s best interests.

You may need to provide evidence that supports the following conclusions:

  • You can provide a stable home environment.
  • You are involved in your child’s life.
  • You can make responsible decisions about the child’s welfare.
  • Additionally, you must counter any accusations of being abusive, neglectful, or generally unsuitable for child care. The complexity and details of this task will vary based on the strength of the evidence presented against you.

Before you show up to court, it is essential to consult with an experienced family law attorney. Your attorney can help you gather the evidence you need to present a strong case for joint custody.

Hiring a Child Custody Lawyer

Cases that involve children can have a highly emotional nature, and parents tend to struggle when they are engaged in a custody battle. An experienced and knowledgeable child custody lawyer can review your case and determine the best legal strategy to help you obtain a positive outcome.

The Jimenez Law Firm Can Help You Through Your Custody Disputes

If you’re facing a child custody battle, you don’t need to do it alone. The skilled family law attorneys at the Jiminez Law Firm can help you every step of the way.

Our legal team can build a strong case for joint or full custody and give you the best chance of a favorable outcome. For a free consultation of your child custody case, call us at (800) 219-3779.