When parents divorce or break up, their primary concern is often the well-being of their children. As traumatic as the separation may be for the young ones, it can be even more difficult when child custody, known in Texas as conservatorship, becomes a source of contention. Ideally, parents can work out a plan together to provide a fair amount of parenting time for each parent. However, there is often more at stake than access to the children.
The rights of conservators
Custody decisions involve more than just the days and times when the children will be with each parent. Parents with conservatorship have important rights regarding their children, such as:
- The choice of where the child will live
- Access to health care information and communication with the children’s doctors
- Decision-making rights related to the children’s physical and mental health
- Educational decision-making, such as choosing their schools, activities and special needs resources
- Access to the children’s educational records, including the right to discuss the children’s progress with school officials
- Authority to consent to emergency medical treatment for the children
Parents who have joint conservatorship may have to divide these and other responsibilities, or the court may assign them as a judge sees fit. However, if only one parent has sole managing conservatorship, he or she alone has these rights as well as the right to child support. The courts weigh numerous factors when deciding on conservatorship, such as the level of involvement each parent has in the lives of the children and any history of violence or substance abuse. Ultimately, what is best for the children is the deciding factor.