Child Custody vs Possession and Access

  • by R. Jeffrey Burgfechtel
  • Feb 12, 2019
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When two people get divorced and have children, the courts will determine which parent has custody, or conservatorship, of the child. The parent who has conservatorship will make the major decisions pertaining to the child. The courts will also determine when the other parent may visit the child, which is known as possession and access under Texas law.

The laws pertaining to conservatorship and possession and access are outlined in the Texas Family Code. Courts will refer to the code when determining which parent to name as conservator and when to grant possession and access to the other parent.

Joint Managing versus Sole Managing Conservators

Under Texas law, both parents should be named as Joint Managing Conservators whenever possible. This does not mean that each parent is granted equal time with the child, but that they will both make decisions regarding most issues pertaining to the child.

Even in joint conservatorships, one parent will still typically have the right to determine where the child lives. The parent with this exclusive right will be known as the custodial parent and the other parent as the non-custodial parent. In most cases, the child’s residence will be restricted to a certain area, such as a county or specific school district.

While a judge will name both parents as Joint Managing Conservators in most cases, there are times when a Sole Managing Conservator will be named. This is usually done in cases in which the other parent has shown abusive or harmful behavior within the past 2 years. Family violence, child abuse, neglect, and alcohol or drug abuse are some factors that may cause a judge to name one parent Sole Managing Conservator.

Possession and Access

The courts use the term possession and access to refer to the parent who has physical custody of the child at any time, or when a parent may visit with a child. Standard Possession Orders are used to indicate in writing when both parents may visit or have custody of the child. This document is a court order and must be followed by all conservators.

A court may use either a standard or extended standard schedule for possession and access. These schedules determine when a parent may visit with the child; however, the parents may also mutually agree on a different schedule. As the needs of the child change, the court may also change the possession and access schedule.

Simply having a child does not necessarily mean that a parent will be granted possession and access. According to Texas Family Code Section 153.004 and Section 153.005, when granting possession and access, a judge must take any history of family violence into consideration.

Get Help with Child Custody Issues from a Texas Divorce Lawyer

Going through the process of determining child custody and possession and access schedules is often very emotional. Each parent wants what’s best for the child, but they may disagree on what that is. Like all aspects of divorce, it can be very difficult. A Texas family lawyer can help families sort out what the law says, and how the courts will make their decision.

If you are getting a divorce and would like the help of an experienced attorney who can petition the court for fair custody and visitation schedules, contact Burgfechtel Law Offices PLLC at (972) 544-6565. We make sure our clients’ rights as parents are protected. Call today for your free consultation.