Divorcing parents in Texas are more likely to be named joint managing conservators than one of them being designated as the sole managing conservator.
Joint Managing Conservators vs Sole Managing Conservator
There is a presumption that declaring both parents as joint managing conservators is in the best interest of the child. However, there are times when the court has to appoint one parent as the sole managing conservator.
Only one parent can be named by the court as the sole managing conservator. The sole managing conservator has the right to make all or most of the decisions regarding a child.
This parent can make decisions concerning education, medical care, marriage, and decide where the child is going to live without including the other parent in the decision making process.
Court Appointed Sole Managing Conservator
A court will name one parent as the sole managing conservator for the following reasons:
- The other parent is violent
- The child decides not to live with the other parent
- The other parent is absent from the child’s life
- The other parent abuses and neglects the child
- The other parent abuses drugs or alcohol
- The other parent is involved in criminal activities
The court reaches this decision based on the principle of “the child’s best interest”. They choose the parent that is likely to take care of the child’s needs in a stable and danger free environment.
Marital status or gender does not influence the court’s decision on who gets named as the sole managing conservator. The court will take the following factors into consideration if it is forced to appoint one parent as a sole managing conservator:
- The geographic proximity of the parties involved
- Specific plans for the child
- Stability of a parent’s home
- The parenting skills of the parents
- Not wanting to separate siblings
- Whether false accusations of child abuse have been made
- How much the parents cooperate
- What the age 12 or older child prefers
You need a competent lawyer by your side if you are pursuing sole managing conservatorship. The reason for this is that if go it alone you may make many mistakes that may deny you the sole managing conservatorship role.
Split Custody in Texas
Parents can choose a split custody arrangement if they have two or more children. A split custody arrangement simply means that each parent gets to become the sole managing conservator of each child if there are two children.
So each parent can only make decisions concerning the child that they have been named sole conservator for.
Texas courts usually do not favor this arrangement and instead prefer an arrangement where the children are kept together.
The only time a Texas court may allow a split custody arrangement is if it is in the best interest of the children. For example, in a situation where some of the children are from a previous marriage or relationship, the court may allow a split custody arrangement.
Generally, it is very rare for a Texas court to allow such an arrangement.