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How does child custody work in Texas?

Getting a divorce with children involved can make the whole thing difficult to handle. The vast majority of parents just want to make sure that their children end up in the best environment possible in order for them to continue growing and developing mentally and physically. Your child custody arrangement could impact how you accomplish this goal.

Every state has different child custody laws, but they work to serve the same purpose: putting children in the best possible situation. In Texas, there are two custody options available to you. These are joint managing conservatorships and sole managing conservatorships.


Conservatorship is just a fancy word the state uses for custody. A joint managing conservatorship is the same as a joint custody arrangement. When a judge awards a JMC, it means that you and your ex will achieve some level of access to your children. This access is usually evenly split. However, one parent may have the kids a little more often and be named the primary custody holder. A standard possession order will include the finer details of how parenting time will work.


When SMC is awarded, you or your ex get full custody. That means that one of you will have the children full-time outside of any visitation rights that the other parent receives. If awarded SMC, on top of getting primary physical custody, you will also have full legal custody, meaning you will get to make all the important decisions for your child.

Preferred arrangement

Joint managing conservatorships are often preferred as they grant children access to both parents, which has shown to be beneficial for their overall well-being. However, there are times when it may not be the best option, such as:

  • If one parent has a history of abuse or addiction
  • If the child has a poor or difficult relationship with either parent
  • If such an arrangement will cause too much conflict due to varying beliefs

A JMC can be a good thing, but it takes a lot of work and open communication.

Best interests of the child

At the end of the day, the custody arrangement awarded has to be in the best interests of the affected child or children. Sometimes parents can agree on what that is, and sometimes they can't. When they can't, a judge will get the final say in the matter. If you are getting a divorce and have concerns about how your child custody arrangement will pan out, your legal counsel can help you fight for what you believe is best for your children.

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