Sole Managing Conservatorship in Texas

By Laurel King
With cooperation, parents can raise their children together after divorce or separation.

family with one child standing between parents image by Sielan from Fotolia.com

In many states, having parental authority over a child is referred to as “custody”. However, in Texas, this authority is called “conservatorship”. If only one parent is given parental authority, it is called sole managing conservatorship. If both parents have parental authority, it is called joint managing conservatorship. Understanding the rights and duties of a sole managing conservatorship may assist you in your case.

Joint Managing Conservatorship Is Best

Texas law clearly states that “the appointment of the parents of a child as joint managing conservators is in the best interest of the child”. However, if there has been a family history of domestic violence, or the parents constantly argue about parental decisions, the court may order that one parent is the sole managing conservator.

What the Court Considers In Deciding Conservatorship

If the parents cannot agree to joint managing conservatorship, the court may still order the parents to be joint conservators. In deciding whether to order joint conservatorship, the court considers:

  1. Whether the child will benefit physically, psychologically and emotionally.

  2. The parents’ ability to put the child’s needs first when making decisions.

  3. The parents’ ability to encourage a positive relationship between the child and the other parent.

  4. Whether both parents helped raise the child.

  5. How close together the parents live.

  6. The child’s preference, if the child is 12 years or older.

Rights and Duties of Sole Managing Conservator

Both parents have specific legal rights as conservator, such as making legal decisions, viewing medical and education records, attending school activities and consenting to medical treatment. In addition to these rights, a sole managing conservator has the following exclusive rights:

  1. Decide where the child lives.

  2. Consent to invasive medical, dental or surgical procedures.

  3. Consent to psychiatric and psychological treatment.

  4. Receive and disburse child support.

  5. Consent to the child’s marriage or military enlistment.

  6. Make decisions regarding the child’s education.

  7. Access to services and earnings of the child.

  8. Act as the child’s agent for estate actions, if there is no guardian ad litem.

Parents Who Are Neither Sole Nor Joint Managing Conservators

In some cases, the court may decide not to appoint one parent as a sole or joint managing conservator. However, parents who are not sole or joint conservators may be appointed as possessory conservator. This means that when she has the child in her “possession” (physically with her), the possessory conservator shall have all of the basic conservator rights listed above, along with any additional rights the court grants.

Restrictions on Parental Possession or Access

Sometimes, the court must consider whether or not to restrict a parent’s possession or access to their child. Fortunately, Texas law is very specific with respect to the court’s ability to make these orders, stating “restrictions or limitations on a parent's right to possession of or access to a child may not exceed those that are required to protect the best interest of the child”.

About the Author

Laurel King has 17 years of experience writing in the legal, political and business arenas. Her work has been published in the SunStar, federal and superior courts, corporate newsletters and research briefings. King writes about a wide array of subjects, from technically dense legal procedures to quirky teen habits. She holds a Bachelors of Arts degree in English from Ottawa University.

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