Are Child Custody and Conservatorship the Same Thing in Texas?

If you’re a parent going through a divorce or custody dispute, you’re probably feeling a little overwhelmed already. There is a lot of legal terminology being thrown your way, including the word “conservatorship.” If you’ve seen that word and are confused by it, don’t worry, this article should help you make sense of it.

Think of Conservatorship as Decisionmaking Authority

Texas law uses the word “conservatorship” rather than child custody. You go through a conservatorship proceeding to determine the legal rights and duties of each parent. A parent who receives court-ordered custody of a child is called a “conservator.” The conservator has the right to make major decisions regarding how the child will be raised, such as what medical care they receive and what religion they practice.

3 Types of Conservatorships in Texas

Texas law creates three different kinds of child custody arrangements (i.e. conservatorships). They are: sole managing conservator, joint managing conservator, and possessory conservator. Our Arlington custody attorneys work with clients to assert and defend their parental rights and push for an optimal conservatorship arrangement.

1. Sole Managing Conservatorship (SMC)

An SMC is essentially sole custody. One parent is appointed managing conservator, which gives him or her the exclusive right to make all major decisions regarding the child, including things like medical care and education. The other parent becomes the possessory conservator, which is discussed below.

2. Joint Managing Conservatorship (JMC)

A JMC is what most other states call joint legal custody. In a JMC, both parents share decision-making authority about most issues. It does not mean that the child will live with each parent an equal amount of time; there will be a possession order governing each parent’s rights to time with the child. 

In Texas, there is a legal presumption that both biological parents should be joint managing conservators, based on the idea that it is in the child’s best interest to have both parents involved in making decisions about the child’s upbringing. However, a parent cannot be appointed a JMC if he/she has a history of violence, abuse, or neglect. 

3. Possessory Conservatorship (PC)

Possessory conservators have rights of possession and access to their child (visitation), but do not have the right to make major decisions regarding the child’s upbringing. The PC has the right to be informed of the other parent’s decisions regarding the child, but not the right to make those decisions. Typically, when one parent is named sole managing conservator, the other will be named PC. 

Our Arlington Custody and Conservatorship Lawyers Are Here to Help

Whether you are going through a divorce or were never married, your rights as a parent are vitally important to us. Our Arlington attorneys are ready to meet with you, learn about your situation, and take action to protect you and your children. Get a free initial consultation by calling 817-799-7125 or contact us online.

Child Custody,Divorce