You and your spouse may not see eye to eye on matters of conservatorship as you divorce. And neither of you may want to budge on your positions. But you will need to resolve any conflicts before your divorce finalizes. If you cannot do so on your own, you have two ways to litigate your dispute.
Texas’ conservatorship laws
In most litigated divorces, a judge will rule on a custody plan that follows Texas’ conservatorship laws. In doing so, they will likely consider joint managing conservatorship in your children’s best interests. This arrangement means you and your spouse will hold equal responsibility in making decisions about your children’s livelihood. Yet, it does not mean that they will split equal time between your residences. Your children will live primarily with their custodial parent, whether that is you or your spouse. Their non-custodial parent will retain fair parenting time, though, following the terms of a possession order.
Yet, your conservatorship dispute may arise from exceptional circumstances. In this case, the judge may deem sole managing conservatorship an acceptable outcome. Factors that could lead to this include:
- Whether you and your spouse can both provide a stable home for your children
- Whether you and your spouse have a history of conflict when making parental decisions
- Whether you or your spouse have ever filed false reports of child abuse
- Whether you or your spouse have a history of abuse or neglect
- Whether you or your spouse have a history of criminal activity or substance abuse
- Whether you or your spouse were ever absent in your children’s lives
Texas is the only state that allows a jury to rule on litigated conservatorship decisions. Sending your dispute to trial may make sense if you and your spouse cannot work together to create a custody plan. And it may also make sense if you disagree with any agreement decreed by the judge. Yet, a jury cannot decide every detail of your conservatorship agreement. They can only rule on:
- Whether you or your spouse receive joint or sole conservatorship
- Whether your children will live with you or your spouse
- Whether your children’s residence will face any restrictions
Settling your conservatorship dispute may prove difficult. If you are having trouble resolving yours, an attorney with family law experience can help you find a path forward.