In Texas, child custody is often referred to as conservatorship. Normally, the court refrains from assigning conservatorship to a single parent. Joint managing conservatorship is the preferred option where parents are expected to share parental duties and responsibilities. Even in this situation, the court allows one parent to be responsible for deciding where the child should stay. This parent, who decides the geographic location of the child, is known as the primary joint managing conservatorship. That parent is also referred to as the custodial parent.
There is another term that is commonly used in matters related to child custody. This is known as “possessory conservatorship.” The court normally appoints the parent who does not have sole conservatorship as the possessory conservator, except under very rare circumstances. That can happen only when the parent is expected to cause physical harm.
This parent has the right to stay with the child during a certain period. This parent is known as the non-custodial parent. Besides deciding where the child will stay, both parents are expected to collaborate in all matters related to child custody. The court assumes that joint managing conservatorship is in the best interest of the child.
A possessory conservator has the same rights and responsibilities as the other parent. This parent needs to support the ward even if there is no formal support order from the court. A possessory conservator also has the right to know about the child’s health, welfare and education, even though this parent does not have primary child custody.