VISITATION AND CONSERVATORSHIP
A lawsuit that involves children will result in orders for conservatorship and possession of the children.
Orders in Texas that define each parent’s time with the children are known as possession orders.
Under the Texas Family Code, the standard possession order provides a detailed scheduled that provides for visits during the school year, the summer and holidays. Parents are encouraged during the lawsuit to negotiate a possession schedule that best fits the needs of their family. In addition, parents may agree to change the possession schedule after it is finalized as the needs of their family change.
The Texas Family Code does not provide for an equal possession schedule; however, it is something you may seek in court or do by agreement. Parents who exercise equal possession of their children often exercise the following schedules:
- Week On / Week Off: Each parent exercises one period of possession for seven consecutive days. This schedule is generally better suited for older children.
- 2/2/5/5: One parent exercises possession each Monday and Tuesday and every other Friday through Sunday and the other parent exercises possession each Wednesday and Thursday and every other Friday through Sunday. This schedule is generally better suited for younger children.
Conservatorship orders state each parent’s rights and duties to the children. There is a presumption in the Texas Family Code that it is in the best interest of the children to name the parents joint managing conservators. If the presumption is overcome in court, or if the parents agree otherwise, one parent will be named the sole managing conservator and the other the possessory conservator.
A conservator, whether joint or sole, generally has the following rights and duties to the children:
- the right to designate the primary residence of the children.
- the right to consent to medical, dental, and surgical treatment involving invasive procedures.
- the right to consent to psychiatric and psychological treatment.
- 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.
- the right to represent the child in legal action and to make other decisions of substantial legal significance concerning the child.
- the right to consent to marriage and to enlistment in the armed forces of the United States.
- the right to make decisions concerning the child’s education.
- the right to the services and earnings of the child.
- except when a guardian of the child’s estate or a guardian or attorney ad litem has been appointed for the child, the right to act as an agent of the child in relation to the child’s estate if the child’s action is required by a state, the United States, or a foreign government.
- the right to: apply for a passport for the child; renew the child’s passport; and maintain possession of the child’s passport.
A conservator, whether joint, sole or possessory, generally has the following rights to the children at all times:
- to receive information from any other conservator of the child concerning the health, education, and welfare of the child.
- to confer with the other parent to the extent possible before making a decision concerning the health, education, and welfare of the child.
- of access to medical, dental, psychological, and educational records of the child.
- to consult with a physician, dentist, or psychologist of the child.
- to consult with school officials concerning the child’s welfare and educational status, including school activities.
- to attend school activities, including school lunches, performances, and field trips.
- to be designated on the child’s records as a person to be notified in case of an emergency.
- to consent to medical, dental, and surgical treatment during an emergency involving an immediate danger to the health and safety of the child.
- to manage the estate of the child to the extent the estate has been created by the parent or the parent’s family.
A conservator, whether joint, sole or possessory, generally has the following rights and duties to the children while in possession of the children:
- the duty of care, control, protection, and reasonable discipline of the child.
- the duty to support the child, including providing the child with clothing, food, shelter, and medical and dental care not involving an invasive procedure.
- the right to consent for the child to medical and dental care not involving an invasive procedure.
- the right to direct the moral and religious training of the child.