For parents going through a divorce, determining how your child will be cared for is of the utmost concern.
If you are both intent on remaining a significant part of your child’s life, being named joint managing conservators of your child may be the best option.
An experienced family law attorney can help you navigate the court process to ensure that your rights as a parent are protected by making appropriate requests of the Court.
At The Stout Law Firm, P.L.L.C., our family law attorneys have advocated for many parents in the Houston area to help ensure their place in their child’s life.
Joint Managing Conservatorship in Texas
In Texas law, the word custody is commonly referred to as “conservatorship”. Conservatorship is really comprised of two main issues: possession and access to a child; and the rights and duties you have as a parent. Possession and access address the terms under which each parent will be able to have physical possession of the child.
When we discuss the rights and duties of a parent, we are looking at what decision-making power you retain in regards to your child. These are major decisions, which include things such as: your child’s education; medical treatment; psychological or psychiatric treatment; management of your child’s property; etc.
One major presumption in Texas Family law is that it is in a child’s best interest that parents be named joint managing conservators. Obviously, this can be overcome with evidence that a parent is not fit to be a joint managing conservator.
It is important to note that being joint managing conservators does not necessarily mean a 50/50 split of the child’s time and decision making. The division of rights and duties, as well as time spent with each parent, should be tailored to fit the needs of your child.
When Joint Managing Conservatorship is Not Workable
Sometimes it is unfortunately not in your child’s best interest that both parents be named joint managing conservators. The presumption that it is in a child’s best interest that parents be named joint managing conservators is a big burden to overcome in court, but can be done.
Factors that may sway a judge to restrict a parent’s rights include things such as: a history of child abuse or domestic violence; substance abuse and addiction issues; a parent’s criminal history; concerns with mental health; absence in the child’s life; or any other factors that deem it dangerous to have the parent present in the child’s life.
No parent should feel forced to agree to something that is not safe for their child. Our attorneys at The Stout Law Firm, P.L.L.C. will listen to your concerns, and help to guide you in achieving the best possible outcome for you and your child.
Overcoming a Prior Denial of Being Named a Joint Managing Conservator
If a parent has been previously denied being named a joint managing conservator of their child, it is possible to later petition the court to modify conservatorship.
To do this, you will have to provide evidence of a material and substantial change of facts since the last order was entered by the court, making this modification necessary to protect the interests of the child. This includes showing the court that the prior concerning factors have been mitigated.
The court will always consider the best interest of the child when deciding conservatorship. Holley v. Adams is the landmark Texas Supreme Court case which provides guidance to the court on what should be considered when determining what is in the best interest of a child. These are referred to as the Holley factors, and include the following:
- The desires of the child;
- The emotional and physical needs of the child now and in the future;
- The emotional and physical danger to the child now and in the future;
- The parental abilities of the individuals seeking custody;
- The programs available to assist these individuals to promote the best interest of the child;
- The plans for the child by these individuals to promote the best interest of the child;
- The plans for the child by these individuals or by the agency seeking custody;
- The stability of the home or proposed placement;
- The acts or omissions of the parent which may indicate that the existing parent-child relationship is not a proper one; and
- Any excuse for the acts or omissions of the parent.
An experienced family law attorney like those at The Stout Law Firm can help you build the best possible case for conservatorship of your child.
How an Attorney Can Help in Your Conservatorship Case
Whether you are entering into an agreement to be named a joint managing conservator, or if you are fighting to maintain legal rights as a parent, an attorney can help.
In an amicable situation, an attorney can expedite the process by filing all of the proper paperwork and getting the judge to approve your agreement.
In contentious proceedings or situations where you are seeking to modify a conservatorship, an experienced family law attorney can be critical to the success of your case.
An attorney understands the law and what is persuasive to the court when determining conservatorship. An attorney will be able to collect evidence and form a strong argument for what you believe is in your child’s best interest.
Our Office Will Advocate for Your Parental Rights
The Stout Law Firm has represented parents and families throughout the Houston area and will aggressively advocate for your parental rights. Call the office or contact us online to schedule a consultation to learn about your legal options when filing for conservatorship in Texas.