Parents filing for divorce in Texas must make a child custody agreement. Texas law calls legal custody “managing conservatorship” and physical custody “possession.” When you or your spouse files for divorce, you may ask the court to make a decision about possession and conservatorship. However, you can also work together to create an independent agreement and submit it for judge approval.
Review the laws that apply to possession and conservatorship before negotiating an arrangement with your spouse.
Managing conservatorship considerations
This term refers to the right of each parent to make decisions about a child’s welfare, health, education and other important aspects of his or her upbringing. By default, Texas courts award parents joint managing conservatorship but may give one parent the sole power to determine the child’s residence within certain geographic borders (the county, for example). The judge will order one parent sole managing conservatorship only in cases of the other parent’s history of abandonment, neglect, abuse or untreated substance abuse.
Factors in possession
You and your spouse can share possession equally, or your child can spend most of the time with one parent and have visitation with the other. If you disagree on the best arrangement, the court generally makes a standard possession order. With this arrangement, the parent who does not have primary possession will have visitation during school vacations, one night a week, on specified holidays, and on the first, third and fifth weekend every month.
Regardless of the court’s decision about possession, Texas protects your right to learn about your child’s mental and physical health and make decisions about his or her well-being.