During divorce, many Texas fathers worry that splitting from their spouse will result in a split from their children. Traditionally, a mother was granted custody of her children after divorce, and a father’s involvement was limited.
Fortunately for fathers, this practice shifted as they increasingly asserted their parental rights. Courts acknowledge that it is in the child’s best interest to spend time with both parents. What can fathers expect during the custody process?
What are the possible child custody arrangements?
In Texas, child custody arrangements are known as “child conservatorships”, and each parent is referred to as a “conservator.” It is possible to arrange:
- Joint managing conservatorships (JMC) where both parents share child custody rights
- Single managing conservatorships (SMC) where only one parent holds child custody rights
Typically, judges grant a JMC unless there are clear reasons why this is not in the child’s best interest. They may decide to grant a SMC if one parent has a history of:
- Drug or alcohol abuse
- Violence or neglect
- Absence from their child’s life
- Intense disagreement over how the child should be raised
Does a JMC ensure equal access to your child?
Having a JMC does not mean that both parents have equal possession of and access to their child. The actual visitation schedule, known as a standard possession order, is decided separately.
Instead, a JMC protects both parents’ rights to make key decisions concerning their child’s life including medical, educational and religious choices. It also guarantees each parent equal access to information about their child – such as medical history or school performance.
Because equal access is not guaranteed, it is important for parents to either amicably agree on a fair visitation schedule, or to select a lawyer who can fight for their rights. If you are considering divorce, contact an attorney who can help you pursue extensive access to your children after divorce.