Mom and Daughter

Types of Child Custody in Texas

Child custody in Texas is known as “conservatorship,” which details the legal rights and responsibilities of each parent. Parents are referred to as “conservators,” rather than custodians. 

Texas courts do not favor either the mother or father when determining conservatorship. Instead, the law considers the child’s best interests, each parent’s relationship with the child, and other factors. Unless both parents agree to a custody arrangement, a judge will determine the terms of a conservatorship. 

Conservatorship is made up of two parts: legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody allows a parent to make decisions (e.g., medical, educational, religious, etc.) on behalf of the child, while physical custody determines where the child will live. 

The following are the different types of child custody arrangements in Texas: 

  • Temporary conservatorship – Before obtaining a child custody order from the court, one or both parents file for “temporary custody” that is valid throughout the divorce proceedings or until a hearing is held. Temporary custody is based on the child’s best interests. 

  • Joint managing conservatorship – Texas courts presume parents should be joint managing conservators (JMC) who share the rights and responsibilities of providing for their children. There are three types of joint custody: joint legal custody, shared physical custody, and a combination of both. Joint legal custody refers to both parents having the right to make decisions on behalf of a child, but the child only has one primary residence while the noncustodial parent has visitation. Shared physical custody refers to the child having two residences, although one parent spends at least 35 percent of the year with the child. 

  • Sole managing conservatorship – The court grants one parent both legal and physical custody rights, while the child has only one primary residence. The other parent’s visitation rights are severely limited. This type of arrangement is common among parents who do not get along or if there is a history of domestic violence. 

  • Split custody – This situation occurs when there are two children, and each parent obtains full physical custody over one child. The court may award this arrangement based on the child’s age or preference. 

If you are interested in filing for or modifying a child custody order in Austin, call Hembree Bell Law Firm, PLLC at (512) 768-9737 or fill out our online contact form today to schedule an initial consultation. 

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