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Possessory Conservatorship in Custody Awards

There are times when a court finds it necessary to appoint someone to be responsible for a minor child. In Texas, that means the appointment of a “managing conservator.” When a managing conservator is appointed, the court may appoint a “possessory conservator,” which is an order setting the times and conditions for possession of or access to the child.

Texas Law

Under Texas law, when parents separate with the intent of ending their marriage, the court may find it necessary to appoint a managing conservator for any child or children of the marriage. The presumption is that one or both parents should be appointed managing conservators. The managing conservator is basically equivalent to a legal and physical custody of the child in other states. When a managing conservator is appointed, the court may also appoint one or more possessory conservators. In ordering a possessory conservator, the court is required to expressly state the times the conservator shall be with the child and the rights and duties of the possessory conservator. The standard in deciding who should be appointed as possessory conservator is the best interests of the child.

To promote the amicable settlement of disputes between the parties to a suit, the parties may enter into a written parenting plan in which they agree upon provisions for conservatorship and possession of the child and for modification of the parenting plan, including variations from the standard possession order. If the court finds that the agreed parenting plan is in the child’s best interest, the court will render an order in accordance with the parenting plan.

Upon the written agreement of the parents, the court may order the parents to undergo arbitration. The written agreement should state whether or not the arbitrator’s determination is binding. Instead of an arbitration plan, the parents may agree in writing or upon the court’s own motion that the parents be referred to mediation. Any decision of the mediator is binding on the parents. However, if the court finds that the mediated agreement is not in the child’s best interest or that one of the parties to the agreement was a victim of domestic violence, the court may decline to enter a court order based on the mediated agreement.

Copyright 2012 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.