Co-Parenting Through Joint Or Shared Custody

Every state uses specific terminology, as set out in its statutes or code, to describe who will take care of a child and/or who will make decisions for a child when parents are separated or divorced.

Decision-Making Rights (Conservatorship Or Legal Custody) Versus Possession And Access (Physical Custody)

The Texas Family Code speaks of conservatorship, which amounts to decision-making rights and responsibilities in a child's upbringing, and possession and access, which refers to the physical custody of a child.

In past generations, a mother often had priority for the physical care or custody of children. Today's laws, however, clearly state that, "It is a ... presumption that the appointment of the parents of a child as joint managing conservators is in the best interest of the child."

The Assumption In Today's Family Courts: Joint Legal Custody and Shared Physical Custody

If there are no compelling reasons to overrule this presumption, both parents will be involved in decision-making and physical care-giving of their children. A possession and access schedule (sometimes called a custody and visitation arrangement) will be included in a divorce decree or spelled out in a stand-alone court order.

The following descriptions clarify what a custody order will mean in practical terms:

Joint custody: In Texas family law, through joint conservatorship, both parents are able to make legal decisions for their child. Parents have input in areas of life including medical care and education. Conservators — usually separated or divorced parents — both have the right to receive information from the other parent about the child's welfare and to confer before the making of decisions concerning health, education and welfare.

The Texas Family Code specifies that "during the period that a parent has possession of the child," he or she has the duty to care, protect, discipline and provide clothing, food, shelter and medical care, as well as the right to direct the moral and religious upbringing of the child.

Possession schedule: A parenting plan agreed on by the parents or a court-ordered possession schedule will clarify the schedule as to when the child will be in the care of each parent. The Texas Family Code has a Standard Possession Order, but through negotiations or mediation, parents can agree to a different parenting plan for shared parenting time.

Your Child, Your Parental Rights

As you approach the legal process of obtaining a court order regarding the care and upbringing of your children, you are naturally concerned about your child's well-being, as well as preserving your parent-child relationship. At the Law Firm of Mysti Murphy, you will find an empathetic, knowledgeable advocate with your rights and your unique family circumstances clearly in focus.

Contact A San Antonio Custody Attorney

To learn more about how to protect your child and your parental rights through the determination of conservatorship, possession and access (decision making, custody and visitation), call 210-807-8227 or email us. Schedule a consultation with lawyer Mysti Murphy for insight, direction and guidance.