Contesting Child Custody

Child custody, can easily be the number one contested issue in Family Law courts. The frequent cause of disagreements in family law courts are parental rights and access and possession of the child. Custody while a popular legal term in many states is not a legal term in Texas. Generally, custody refers to the rights and duties of the parent and the physical possession of the child. In Texas, we separate the rights and duties of the parent and the physical possession of the child into “Conservatorship” and “Possession and Access”. Conservatorship describes the rights and responsibilities of each parent. Possession and Access describes the schedule the parents will have with the child.

Types of Conservatorship

  1. Joint Managing Conservatorship (JMC)
  2. Sole Managing Conservatorship (SMC)
  3. Possessory Conservatorship (PC)

Conservatorship Rights and Duties

An example of some of the rights and duties are:

  •  The duty to support the child, including providing the child with clothing, food, shelter, medical and dental care, and education;
  •  The right to have physical possession, to direct the moral and religious training, and to designate the residence of the child;
  •  The right to receive and give receipt for payments for the support of the child and to hold or disburse those funds for the benefit of the child;

Joint Managing Conservatorship

Both parents share certain rights and duties equally. Rights and duties awarded to the parents will be joint, individual and/or exclusive meaning one parent may be awarded the exclusive to make certain decisions on their own. The main rights parents have a dispute over are: Residence, Education, Medical, and Psychological.  

Sole Managing Conservatorship

Parents who are Sole Managing Conservators have the exclusive right to:

  •      The right to designate the primary residence of the child;
  •      The right to consent to medical, dental, and surgical treatment involving invasive procedures;
  •      The right to make decisions concerning the child’s education
  •      The right to receive and give receipt for periodic payments for the support of the child and to hold or disburse these funds for the benefit of the child

Persons who are granted Sole Managing Conservator can become Sole Managing Conservators due to the other parent having a history of drug, alcohol or other criminal activity; being absent in the child’s life; or the other parent has a history of family violence or neglect, just to name a few.

Possessory Conservator

Possessory Conservators are normally awarded to parents who have had issues such as having a history of drug, alcohol or other criminal activity; being absent in the child’s life; or the other parent has a history of family violence or neglect.

Possession and Access

Schedules for time with the child are called Possession schedules. The ability to have a schedule that works for the parents and the child can be determined by the parents or in the absence of an agreement by the Judge. The schedule in lieu of an agreement can either be a Standard possession schedule or an Expanded Standard possession schedule. The parents even have the opportunity to agree on a 50/50 Possession Schedule.

What is a Standard Possession Schedule?

In this schedule, one parent would have the child for the first, third and fifth weekends of the month (Friday at 6pm until Sunday at 6pm), Thursday during the school year (6pm to 8pm), every other holiday and thirty days in the summer. This schedule is the default schedule for all parents.

What is an Expanded Standard Possession Schedule?

The Expanded Standard Possession Schedule is the same as the standard possession schedule with the exception that Thursday would be from the time school is dismissed until Friday when school resumes and first, third and fifth weekends of the month would be when school was dismissed on Friday until when school resumes on Monday morning.

What is a 50/50 Possession Schedule?

A 50/50 Possession schedule allows the parents to have equal possession of the child. It can either be a week on/week off schedule, a 2-2-3 (set days) or any other variation that works with the parents.

If you or anyone you know has questions pertaining to family law or wishes to have a free 30-minute consultation, please contact an attorney, like family lawyers Arlington, TX trusts.


Thanks to our friends and contributors from Brandy Austin Law Firm, PLLC for their insight into contesting child custody.