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Texas Child Custody Basics

A mother hugging her daughter as she plays

Know the Ins and Outs

When parents get divorced, one of the most important decisions they have to make is who will take care of their children. In Texas, child custody is determined by a court order called a conservatorship order. Continue reading to learn about the basics of Texas child custody laws.

Proper Terminology

When discussing child custody in Texas, it is important to use the proper terminology. In Texas, child custody is called conservatorship. However, the terms “custody” and “conservatorship” are used interchangeably and have the same meaning.

Types of Conservatorship

There are two types of conservatorship in Texas: joint managing conservatorship and sole managing conservatorship. Joint managing conservators means that both parents share the rights and duties of raising the child. Sole managing conservatorship means that one parent has the majority of the rights and duties of raising the child.

In a joint managing conservatorship, both parents have equal rights to make decisions about their child’s welfare, including decisions about the child’s education, healthcare, and religious upbringing. Both parents also have the right to access the child’s medical and school records. In a sole managing conservatorship, the parent who has been granted conservatorship has the right to make these decisions unilaterally.

The non-custodial parent still has the right to access the child’s medical and school records and to receive information about the child’s welfare but does not have the right to make decisions about these matters.

In cases where there is a sole managing conservator, the court will often appoint a possessory conservator. The possessory conservator is typically the non-custodial parent and has the right to possession of the child according to a specified schedule.

Determining Conservatorship

In Texas, conservatorship is generally determined by the best interests of the child. The court will look at a variety of factors to determine what is in the best interests of the child, including:

  • The age and physical and mental health of the child

  • The ability of each parent to provide for the needs of the child, including food, shelter, clothing, medical care, education and any special needs the child may have

  • The emotional bond between each parent and the child

  • The parents' work schedules and parenting abilities

  • Any history of abuse or neglect by either parent

  • The willingness and ability of each parent to encourage a close relationship between the child and the other parent

After considering all these factors, the court will make a determination of conservatorship. The court may award joint conservatorship to both parents, primary conservatorship to one parent, or sole managing conservatorship to one parent.


It is important to note that Texas law presumes that it is in the best interests of the child to have both parents involved in their life. Therefore, the court will start with the presumption of joint managing conservatorship and only deviate from this if there is a compelling reason to do so.

How Visitation Works

If you have been awarded possession of your child in a Texas divorce, you may be wondering how visitation works. The non-custodial parent will usually be granted reasonable visitation rights by the court. However, these visitation rights can be limited if the non-custodial parent has a history of abuse or violence.

In most cases, the court will order that visitation take place at a supervised parenting center or with another responsible adult present. The custodial parent may also request that visits take place in their home. If you have any concerns about your child's safety during visits, be sure to discuss them with your attorney.

Visitation schedules will vary depending on the age of the child and the distance between the homes of the custodial and non-custodial parents. The court will also take into account the work schedules of both parents when making a visitation schedule. It is important to remember that the court's goal is to allow both parents to have a meaningful relationship with their child.

Work with a Texas Custody Attorney

If you are a parent in the state of Texas, it is important to understand the child custody laws before making any decisions about your family. These laws can be complex, but a qualified child custody attorney will be able to help you navigate the legal system and protect your rights as a parent.

At Burrows Law Group, we know how important it is to spend as much time with your child as possible. We will work to find a solution that meets your needs and serves your child's best interests. Learn more about custody and conservatorship in Texas or schedule a consultation by calling us at (972) 236-7798 or by visiting our website.