Texas laws presume that divorcing parents must be joint managing conservators, meaning both have the authority to create important life decisions for their child. Notably, this presumption does not mean each parent would have an equal time with their child. Primary residence and visitation schedules will still depend on numerous factors.
The presumption is, of course, rebuttable. So, what are the instances that render the presumption inapplicable?
Circumstances that break the presumption
Courts consider many factors when deciding custody, including the child’s age and relationship with each parent. Under the Texas family code, evidence of any of the following circumstances can affect the court’s decision not to issue joint managing conservatorship:
- Neglect of the child
- Physical, emotional or sexual abuse towards the child, the other parent or a spouse
- History of sexual assault that resulted in the other parent being pregnant with the child
The courts will consider any history of the circumstances mentioned above within the past two years prior to the filing of the case. If these circumstances are proven, the courts will likely appoint the other parent as the sole managing conservator.
What if both parents are guilty?
If unfortunately, both parents are guilty of neglect or abuse, the court may appoint a nonparent to be a sole managing conservatorship. This could be any fit and able adult, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services or an authorized child-placing agency.
This rule also applies when one parent is unfit and the other passes away.
The child’s best interests
The circumstances mentioned above pose significant harm to a child’s well-being. Like all other states, Texas family courts decide on custody cases in the child’s best interests. Even if the decision is not what a parent wants, they should respect the same for the sake of their child.