Brandon Young Bell

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Phone: (972) 668-1462
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Address: 38 1st Street NW, Paris, Texas 75460

Custody and Visitation

Under Texas law, the term "conservatorship" is used to refer to what is commonly called "custody" by other States and in popular usage. Conservatorship can be determined in connection with divorce proceedings or in a separate action (e.g. with unmarried parents).

Custody of the children can cause a huge conflict among divorcing parents. The word "custody" often conjures up thoughts of possibly losing the kids. This may be the reason the Texas Legislature saw fit to use the word "conservatorship" instead.

During a suit to determine conservatorship issues, one will often hear terms like managing conservator, sole managing conservator, possessory conservator, and parenting plans. Although all of these terms have meaning, essentially what needs to be determined is a set of rules for the management and care of the kids. This set of rules can be divided into rules for the rights and duties of conservators (usually parents) and rules for visitation with the children.

The subject matter covered by rights and duties of parents include, but are not limited to: which parent determines the primary residence of the child, how education decisions are made, and where the child will go to the doctor.


Visitation is, of course, the issue of when the parents will have possession and access to the child. As with most aspects of an action involving children, parents can agree to a set of rules concerning visitation and most courts will adopt the agreement as its order. Absent an agreement by the parents, a trial court may appoint the parents as joint managing conservators if the appointment is in the child's best interest. Aside from the duties and rights of parents, an order will provide for possession of the child. The court may consider any relevant factor in determining the terms of possession, but there is a presumption that a standard possession order as defined in sections 153.311 through 153.317 of the Texas Family Code will be in effect for a child over the age of three.

Where possible, it is advisable for parents to put aside their emotions and differences long enough to find common ground to agree on issues concerning the children, thereby avoiding the "all or nothing" consequences that most parents fear. Almost any judge dealing with family law cases will agree that court imposed solutions to these problems bring about the perception (at least by one party) of a loss of control over the children's lives. Therefore, agreement among the parents is almost always preferred. However, there are times where one party's unrealistic expectations or offensive behavior forces the other party to fight. In any event, it is essential to have competent legal counsel from an experienced lawyer.

The child's best interest is always the court's primary consideration in determining questions of managing conservatorship of, possession of, and access to a child.

Brandon Young Bell

Areas of Practice
  • Family Law