When parents divorce, one of their most important issues is who will have custody of their children. Sometimes parents, despite their failed marriage, can negotiate an acceptable child custody settlement. In some countries, these types of settlements can be notarized and after that are legally enforceable. However, in Texas a child custody settlement must be approved by a court to be enforceable. So, before heading to court it is important to understand the basics on child custody in Texas.
Texas legal custody orders
Under Texas law, legal custody is referred to as “conservatorship.” There are three types of custody orders in Texas: joint managing conservators, sole managing conservators and possessory conservators. A joint managing conservatorship is referred to as joint legal custody in other states. It means that both parents have an equal say in making major decisions regarding the life of their child, such as where the child will go to school and what doctors the child will see. Joint managing conservatorship does not affect how much time each parent has the child in their care. If a parent has sole managing conservatorship, they alone have the right to make major decisions regarding the life of their child.
Texas physical custody orders
In Texas, physical custody is referred to as “possessory conservatorship.” A possession order in Texas outlines when each parent has the child in their care. One parent will likely decide where the child lives and will be considered the custodial parent. The non-custodial parent is the parent who does not have primary physical custody of the child. Some possession orders limit the geographic scope of where they can live with the child. For example, they may need to stay in the same school district or county where the child resides.
Understanding Texas custody laws
Texas child custody laws can be confusing, which is why many people seek help when settling child custody issues in a divorce. What is important is that any support settlements agreed upon are approved by the court. Unapproved child custody settlements cannot be enforced even if they are notarized. In the end, if you can reach a settlement with your ex and have that settlement approved by the court, you can move forward knowing your child custody affairs are in order.