Ask a Family Lawyer: What Is the Process for Establishing a Conservatorship?

If you’re going through a divorce and custody battle, then it’s important to understand the process of establishing a conservatorship, which you’ll also hear referred to as custody. Family lawyers in Houston, TX can help take you through the process.

Ask Family Lawyers in Houston, TX: What Is a Conservatorship?

In Texas, the legal term for “custody” is “conservatorship.” you may hear it used in the terms “sole managing conservatorship” and “joint managing conservatorship.” The “conservator” in question is a parent or guardian who has the right to make decisions regarding their child’s life, including decisions regarding healthcare, education, where the child lives, and so on.

You generally won’t need to worry about using the word “conservatorship” as you begin your custody battle. It’s generally only used among legal professionals. Most family law attorneys will be perfectly happy for you to use the word “custody” if you feel more comfortable doing so. Visit this page to get in touch with family law attorneys who’ll be happy to help you with your custody case and divorce.

What Types of Conservatorships Are There?

Sole Managing Conservatorship

A sole managing conservatorship is where there’s only one conservator of your child. It means one parent gets to make all the important decisions in the child’s life, and the other parent does not. The child may live primarily or only with the sole managing conservator.

The other parent may have visitation rights, but they won’t have the right to make big life decisions for their child. A parent who’s allowed visitation with the child but who’s not a managing conservator is typically referred to as a “possessory conservator.”

Joint Managing Conservatorship

With a joint managing conservatorship, both parents are allowed to make decisions that impact the child’s life. Typically, the parents will discuss all decisions in advance for healthy co-parenting of the child.

The child may live with both parents, spending an equal amount of time with each, or they may not. There may be one “custodial parent” that the child lives with most of the time, and the other parent is referred to as the “noncustodial parent” in this case.

How Is Custody Decided During a Custody Battle?

Custody is decided based on your child’s best interests. If you and your former spouse have an amicable relationship, you may be able to come up with a custody agreement yourselves. Other times, you may need the help of a mediator. If you really can’t agree on a custody decision by yourselves, the judge may make the decision for you.

Each parent will get to build a case proving why they’re a responsible parent and deserve custody of their child. In some cases, the judge may interview the child or children in question. Any child over the age of 12 may be interviewed if an interview is requested by the parent. However, judges sometimes wish to avoid such interviews as they can be stressful for the child.

How Do I File a Custody Order?

Custody arrangements may be brought up during your divorce. Your attorney will talk you through what you need to do to demonstrate why you should get the arrangement you’re seeking. Your lawyer may talk through your options with you regarding custody, then they’ll help you file the appropriate papers. A temporary order regarding custody may also be issued if necessary. Mediation may be required before filing a temporary custody or restraining order.

You’ll go through a discovery phase, where your attorney builds you a case and examines what the other side has prepared. From there, you’ll attend mandatory mediation before your custody case eventually goes to trial, where the judge will make a decision.

What Happens After Trial?

If the trial went smoothly, and you got the outcome you were hoping for, then what you must do depends on the outcome. You may need to devise a parenting plan if you’ve been awarded joint custody but haven’t yet made a parenting plan. You should also keep notes if you notice that the other parent isn’t following the court-ordered custody arrangement.

Can I Appeal the Judge’s Decision Regarding the Conservatorship of My Child?

You can appeal to a higher court if you believe the judge made the wrong decision regarding the custody of your child. Speak to your attorney about this if necessary. However, you must be able to demonstrate why you believe the court made the wrong decision.

One of the most important parts of deciding the conservatorship of your child is determining what kind of conservatorship agreement will work best for your family. From there, your attorney will help you through the process of making decisions, filing orders, going through discovery and mediation

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