Child custody cases in Lubbock, TX are complex, not only because of the laws involved, but because of the emotions of the parents. This makes an already complicated legal matter more touchy, and it is easy to misinterpret the laws or assume the worst. Here is an easy FAQ to give you an idea of how child custody works in Texas.
What is conservatorship?
In Texas, child custody is called “conservatorship.” Other states only use this term to describe managing the finances of a minor, but here it describes the legal rights and responsibilities of a parent.
What if the other parent and I agree to custody arrangements?
Child custody cases do not always demand a full-on court battle. You are allowed to come to an agreement and have it finalized by a judge. As long as the terms are fair and in the best interest of your children, there should be no issue getting an agreement approved. However, we recommend that each party consult with separate legal counsel to be sure your rights are fully honored.
What types of conservatorship are available?
In Texas, your conservatorship options are joint managing conservatorship (JMC) or sole managing conservatorship (SMC).
What is the difference between JMC and SMC?
JMC is just how it sounds: both parties share the rights and duties of a parent. This includes getting information regarding a child’s health and welfare, getting access to medical records, talking to physicians and other medical professionals about a child’s health, communicating with school officials and consenting to medical, dental or surgical procedures on behalf of a child.
When a judge decides to award a JMC, it is possible that the exclusive right to some decisions, like school choice, may be limited to one parent. However, each parent is guaranteed the rights above and will have other decisions divided between them. Also, both parents receive equal or near equal time with the children.
An SMC grants rights to only one parent. This includes deciding the primary residence, consenting to medical, psychiatric or dental treatment, being an emergency contact, attending school activities, receiving child support and making educational decisions. The other parent cannot make these decisions without being held in contempt.
Why would a judge grant an SMC?
SMC arrangements are usually only granted in the most dire of circumstances. Reasons for limited a parent’s decision-making power include history of violence or neglect, drug addiction, absence from the child’s life and extreme conflict between parents over education, medical decisions and religious values.
What about visitation?
Even in an SMC, the non-custodial parent can receive visitation. This allows scheduled access to the child and likely occurs under certain guidelines. Examples of these guidelines may include supervision by a grandparent or other trusted relative, abstaining from alcohol during visitation times and restrictions on places where a parent can take a child.
However, if visitation is determined not to be in the best interest of a child, judges will not grant it. This is especially true if the parent has a history of abuse and visitation will only make a child’s emotional challenges more severe.
If you are facing child custody issues in Lubbock, TX, it is essential that you find skilled legal counsel. These cases are too life-changing and disruptive to risk going it on your own. Call The Law Office of Rob Biggers today to schedule a consultation and find the best course of action for your custody matters.
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Categorised in: Divorce