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What does the word conservatorship mean in Texas child custody?

It is fair to say that when you participate in any family law legal matter, you will hear terms or words that you might not understand. Because such terms often scare parents, it may help to know that these words and phrases typically do not have negative connotations.

Conservatorship and conservator are two words most parents do not understand as family law terms. When parents hear these words during custody proceedings, they think they are about to lose their child to a court-associated conservator. Fortunately, that is not the case in most situations.

Explaining Texas (child custody) conservatorships

You may feel relieved to learn that conservator is simply the term used to describe a custodial parent. In turn, conservatorship describes the child custody arrangement between the two parents.

If you and your co-parent cannot reach a custody agreement, a judge will arrange the conservatorship on behalf of the parents and the child. As always, the judge will make preserving the best interests of your child the top priority. In Texas, there are two types of conservatorships.

  1. Joint managing conservatorship (JMC): In this arrangement, both parents are named conservators of the child and are jointly responsible for making decisions. It is the arrangement family courts prefer, when possible. A judge must specify the joint and individual responsibilities of each parent in joint conservatorships.
  2. Sole managing conservatorship (SMC). With this plan, only one parent is granted conservatorship and named conservator. The parent appointed as the conservator can make decisions for the child without input from the other parent.

Texas courts usually opt for joint managing conservatorships unless it would place a child at risk of physical or psychological harm. 

If you are still concerned about losing access to your kids, consider learning more about Texas family laws. Legal guidance can also help you understand what is said and done in your child custody case.