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3 Parts to a Kid


In my opinion there are three parts to a child when considering any court ordered relationship. Each of the three parts general work together in a common sense type way, but they are completely separate and can be modified by the Court in thousands of ways. 

The first part of the kid is "Conservatorship."

Conservatorship is in layman's terms- what rights do I have to the child. This area is where the Court delineates what rights and duties a conservator (usually parent) will have to a child. Such rights include the right to designate a primary residence, right to make educational decisions, and the rights to information about the child.

The types of rights are laid out in Texas Family Code Ch 153.

Parents are presumptively going to be named as Joint Managing Conservators. This essentially means that you both have full "rights" to the child, but some specific rights will still be granted exclusively to one conservator, require joint agreement, or a variety of other options.

There are generally four "big" rights that are delineated differently. These rights can be exclusively to one conservator, require joint agreement of both conservators, can be independent (both have the right to consent without agreement of the other- this causes big problems), require consultation between the conservators prior to making a decision, or even require the conservators to follow the advise of specific professionals.
- The first is the right to designate primary residence. The right to designate primary residence is most often granted to one parent, but in some cases can be granted to neither parent. This right can also be subject to a geographic restriction that can be as wide as the state or as narrow as a specific school district.
- The second is the right to consent to invasive medical/dental/surgical treatment. This is for non-emergency type situations, i.e. ear tubes, tonsils, etc. All conservators may consent to medical treatment in emergency situations where the child is in imminent danger.
- The third is the right to consent to psychiatric and psychological treatment. This is specifically on this list as a "big" right due to the prescribing of mental health medications to children and the child's use of a counselor.
- The final "big" right is educational decisions. This right causes issues when a child is advanced or having difficulties in school. Since the COVID pandemic, this right has been the source of litigation to move to homeschooling or private schools over the prior used public school system.

In some circumstances, the presumption can be rebutted and one parent will be named as Sole Managing Conservator. The other parent will be named as a Possessory Conservator. This designation seriously limits the rights of the Possessory Conservator.