Dec 28, 2021

Fathers’ Rights Lawyer Explains Your Rights as Conservator

In the State of Texas, the terms “custody” and “visitation” are not recognized when discussing the rights and responsibilities of the parent of a minor child post-divorce. Instead, the law refers to “conservatorship” of the minor child as well as “possession and access” to the child. If you are the father of a minor child and you are going through a divorce, or are contemplating divorce, you should understand what these terms mean. Toward that end, a Texas fathers’ rights lawyer explains your rights as conservator of your minor child.

Texas Family Code on Conservatorship

The Texas Code Sections 153.001 et seq. governs the continuing rights and responsibilities of the parents of a minor child post-divorce. The relevant portions of that statute relating to conservatorship include:

Sec. 153.005. APPOINTMENT OF SOLE OR JOINT MANAGING CONSERVATOR. (a) In a suit, except as provided by Section 153.004, the court:

(1) may appoint a sole managing conservator or may appoint joint managing conservators; and

(2) if the parents are or will be separated, shall appoint at least one managing conservator.

(b) A managing conservator must be a parent, a competent adult, the Department of Family and Protective Services, or a licensed child-placing agency.

(c) In making an appointment authorized by this section, the court shall consider whether, preceding the filing of the suit or during the pendency of the suit:

(1) a party engaged in a history or pattern of family violence, as defined by Section 71.004;

(2) a party engaged in a history or pattern of child abuse or child neglect; or

(3) a final protective order was rendered against a party.

Sec. 153.006. APPOINTMENT OF POSSESSORY CONSERVATOR. (a) If a managing conservator is appointed, the court may appoint one or more possessory conservators.

(b) The court shall specify the rights and duties of a person appointed possessory conservator.

(c) The court shall specify and expressly state in the order the times and conditions for possession of or access to the child, unless a party shows good cause why specific orders would not be in the best interest of the child.

Sole vs. Joint Conservatorship

It is the policy of the courts to encourage the parents of a minor child to continue to share in the upbringing of the child post-divorce. Consequently, it is also the policy of the court to award parents joint conservatorship of a child when possible. If you have joint conservatorship you will share in the duties and responsibilities whereas if you are awarded sole conservatorship you alone will have the duties and responsibilities of conservatorship.

What Are the Rights and Responsibilities of A Conservator in General?

Whether you have been named a joint or a sole conservator, your general rights and responsibilities relating to your minor child will include:

  • The right to receive information from any other joint conservator concerning your child’s health, education, and welfare.
  • The responsibility of conferring with the other parent, to the extent possible, before making a decision concerning the health, education, and welfare of the child.
  • The right to have access to your child’s medical, dental, psychological and educational records.
  • The right to consult with your child’s physician, dentist, or psychologist or other healthcare provider.
  • The right to consult with school officials concerning your child’s welfare and educational status, including school activities.
  • The right to attend school activities.
  • The right to be designated on your child’s records as a person to be notified in case of an emergency.
  • The right to consent to medical, dental and surgical treatment during an emergency involving an immediate danger to the health and safety of your child.
  • The right and duty to manage a child’s estate created by you, your child’s other parent, or a parent’s family.

Conservator Rights and Responsibilities When the Child Is with You (During Periods of Possession)

In addition to the general rights and responsibilities you have as a conservator for your child, you also have additional rights and responsibilities when you are exercising a period of possession and access, including:

  • The responsibility to care for, protect, and reasonably discipline your child.
  • The responsibility to support the child, including providing the child with clothing, food, shelter, and routine medical and dental care.
  • The right to consent to routine medical and dental care that does not involving an invasive procedure.
  • The right to direct the moral and religious training of your child.

NOTE: If the Parenting Plan accepted by the court conflicts with any of these rights and responsibilities, the Parenting Plan should be followed. Although the above represent common rights and responsibilities, the terms and provisions of a Parenting Plan agreed to by the parents, or created by the court, represent orders of the court. As such, those orders supersede general rights and responsibilities of a conservator.

Contact a Texas Fathers’ Rights Lawyer

If you have additional questions or concerns about the rights and responsibilities of a conservator in the State of Texas, contact an experienced Texas fathers’ rights lawyer at The Law Office of Jon R. Boyd to schedule your appointment today.