For a parent, one of the most frightening aspects of a divorce may be how custody of the minor children will be handled. In a perfect world, both parents are able and willing to continue being a productive and nurturing parent to the children after the divorce. If, however, you have reasons to worry about your spouse getting custody of –or even spending time with – your children, the prospect of divorce can be terrifying. Dallas divorce lawyer Rita M. Boyd explains what happens when a parent wants full custody of the children in a Texas divorce.
Conservatorship of a Child in Texas
Although people commonly use the term “custody” in relation to a divorce that involves minor children, the State of Texas uses the term “conservatorship” to refer to a parent who has legal rights and responsibilities for a minor child. If a parent is granted the sole right to make decisions regarding the minor child that parent has “sole managing conservatorship.” If both parents share the right to make decisions, they are referred to as “joint managing conservators.” Likewise, the term “visitation” is not used in Texas. In its place the term “possession and access” is used to refer to when the parents have physical custody of the children or when they exercise parenting time with the children. If you are truly seeking “full custody” of your children, it means you want sole managing conservatorship without your spouse having rights to possession and access of the children.
Texas Governing Law
Getting a court to grant you sole managing conservatorship will be an uphill battle. Preventing your spouse from having access to your children will be even more challenging given the state of the law.
Sec. 153.001 et seq. of the Texas Family Code governs matters related to conservatorship and possession and access of a minor child. Section 153.001 reads as follows:
(a) The public policy of this state is to:
(1) assure that children will have frequent and continuing contact with parents who have shown the ability to act in the best interest of the child;
(2) provide a safe, stable, and nonviolent environment for the child; and
(3) encourage parents to share in the rights and duties of raising their child after the parents have separated or dissolved their marriage.
(b) A court may not render an order that conditions the right of a conservator to possession of or access to a child on the payment of child support.
Sec. 153.002 states “The best interest of the child shall always be the primary consideration of the court in determining the issues of conservatorship and possession of and access to the child” while Sec. 153.003 reads as follows:
The court shall consider the qualifications of the parties without regard to their marital status or to the sex of the party or the child in determining:
(1) which party to appoint as sole managing conservator;
(2) whether to appoint a party as joint managing conservator; and
(3) the terms and conditions of conservatorship and possession of and access to the child.
Collectively, these statutes mean that the law encourages both parents to retain an active role in the life of a child post-divorce. Ultimately, however, the court must make decisions relating to conservatorship and/or possession and access using the “best interest of the child” standard.
It is difficult, but certainly not impossible, to obtain sole managing conservatorship of your children in a Texas divorce. It is even more difficult, however, to prevent a parent from spending time with children after a divorce. Having an experienced divorce attorney on your side will be the key if you are seeking full custody of your children.
Contact a Dallas Divorce Lawyer
If you have additional questions or concerns about how to become your children’s sole managing conservator and/or restrict possession and access in a Texas divorce, contact experienced Dallas divorce lawyer Rita M. Boyd to discuss your legal rights and options by calling 972-380-8000 to schedule your appointment today.