When parents with minor children divorce or separate, it is necessary to determine a child custody arrangement. In Texas, child custody is referred to as a “conservatorship”. The terms of a conservatorship are typically determined by a family law judge.
There are two conservatorship options in Texas: Joint managing conservatorship (JMC) and sole managing conservatorship (SMC). These designations determine who has the right to make important life decisions on behalf of the child.
In determining where a child will live, a standard possession order for parenting time may be followed.
Occasionally, the court grants full physical custody to one parent. The other parent then becomes a noncustodial parent. The child will live with the parent who has full physical custody.
While some may think only fathers can be noncustodial parents, in Texas around 10 percent of all noncustodial parents are mothers.
A common misconception of noncustodial parents is that they have no rights regarding their children. This is false.
Rights for noncustodial parents include:
Noncustodial parents typically have visitation rights. A standard possession order may be followed. For noncustodial parents who live within 100 miles, standard possession includes:
- First, third and fifth weekends of every month
- Thursday evenings of each week
- Alternating holidays
- An extended period over the summer (typically around 30 days)
If the child is very young (usually under three), the court may start with shorter visitation times.
A judge can revoke these visitations if they determine they are hurting a child’s wellbeing.
Whereabouts of the child
Even if you are not the custodial parent, you have a right to know where the child spends his or her time.
The custodial parent must inform you of any decisions to relocate. They also must let you know where the child is on a day-to-day basis.
This allows both parents to stay updated on their child’s location. It also prevents noncustodial parents from losing connection with a child if the other parent decides to move.
The court can and will alter these rights based on what they determine is the best course of action for the child.
Noncustodial parents still have rights. If you are granted noncustodial parental status, an experienced family attorney can help you determine your current options.