In Texas, we rarely use the word custody. Instead we use words like conservatorship and primary parent and we talk about rights and duties of parents. Generally, parents have certain rights at all times just because they are parents. These rights include the right of access to medical and educational records, the right to attend school activities, and the right to consent to emergency treatment of the child. Also, parents have certain rights and duties during times of possession of their child. These rights include the right to direct the moral and religious training of the child, and the duty to discipline the child.
A court may appoint a parent as Sole Managing Conservator, Possessory Conservator, or Joint Managing Conservator. Most often, parents are appointed Joint Managing Conservators. Key points related to Joint Managing Conservators are:
- The term Joint Managing Conservator means the parents share significant decisions that affect the child; it does not require equal or nearly equal periods of physical possession of the child.
- Significant decisions include decisions about a child’s education, mental health, invasive medical care, and legal issues.
- As Joint Managing Conservators, significant decisions may be exercised by each parent independently, by the joint agreement of the parents, or exclusively by one parent.
- Some parents work with parenting coordinators, mental health professionals, or child specialists to develop the provisions related to rights and duties of parents.