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Understanding Child Custody Laws in Texas


Understanding child custody laws can feel overwhelming, especially when you consider that each state has its own unique set of rules regarding divorce and legal arrangements. In Texas, parents are held to a number of requirements regarding residency, behavior, and the necessary steps taken to protect the welfare of the child. At The Law Office of Ryan S. Dougay in Austin, TX, we can help you understand all of the various requirements and prepare the strongest case possible to provide your child with the best future.

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Child Custody Laws in Texas

In Texas, a child must have lived in the state for a minimum of six months to file for custody. Overall, the best interest of the child is always top priority in awarding primary custody or primary residence. The parents with custodial rights are able to choose the primary residence and take an active involvement in education, healthcare, and other needs of the child. Children 12 years of age and older can be interviewed by the judge and, unless they have been coached or otherwise improperly influenced, these interviews can go a long way in determining custody. Parents will be checked for a history of criminal behavior and domestic violence. The status quo is considered ideal in conservatorship and, unless major changes have occurred or new facts have been uncovered, temporary orders will often remain unchanged.

Conservatorship Rights in Texas

In Texas, the term “conservatorship” is used to refer to child custody and parents are referred to as “conservators” instead of custodians. Unless parents can come to an agreement, the terms of a conservatorship will be decided by a family law judge. The court is most concerned with what is in the child’s best interest and will decide on a conservatorship plan to achieve that. Conservators will be able to:

  • Access information about the child’s health, education, and welfare from the other parent
  • Talk about the child’s health with a healthcare professional
  • Talk about the child’s welfare, activities, and educational status with school officials
  • Access the child’s medical, dental, educational, and psychological records
  • Consent to emergency medical and surgical treatments

Joint managing conservatorships (JMC) and sole managing conservatorships (SMC) are the two types of conservatorships in Texas. In a JMC, parents share rights and duties, otherwise known as joint custody. This arrangement is considered preferable to a SMC, in which one parent is given legal rights to make important decisions. 

From guiding you through custody and visitation forms to explaining what the court considers important, family law attorney Ryan S. Dougay will help you understand every step of the child custody process in Texas.

The Importance of Parental Conduct

The behavior of each parent during the legal proceedings will play a role in the court’s decision. Each parent's conduct while married and its impact on the child will be considered as well. Divorcing parents will often be required by the court to undergo a parenting class to help deal with the trauma of a divorce.  Any parent with a history of domestic violence, criminal behavior, or drug use will be looked at unfavorably. If the court determines that a child has been abused or neglected, the custody rights of the parent will likely be revoked. If one or more parents are convicted of a felony, they may temporarily or permanently lose their parental rights.

Provide for Your Child

From guiding you through custody and visitation forms to explaining what the court considers important, family law attorney Ryan S. Dougay will help you understand every step of the child custody process in Texas. To learn more about how he can help, contact our team online or call (512) 469-0811 today.

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"Ryan helped me through my divorce and complicated property division. He was great at explaining the process to me and explaining anything that I did not understand. He and his staff were always very helpful and understanding and I couldn’t have chosen a more qualified, competent lawyer to handle my case."

Amanda - Satisfied Client

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Austin, TX 78701

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