If you want to be the sole managing conservator of your child – or, in other words, you want to obtain full custody of your child – you will need to consult with a Harker Heights custody attorney.
Emotions can run high when going through a divorce. Often, divorcing parents want to obtain sole custody of their child in Texas because the other parent poses a danger to the child or they believe that it will be in the child’s best interests if they are named the sole managing conservator.
In situations like these, it is not uncommon for parents to ask family law attorneys, “How do I obtain full custody of my child?” For the best chance of obtaining sole custody of your child, it is advised to contact an experienced child custody attorney in Texas to convince the judge to name you the sole managing conservator.
Sole Custody vs. Sole Managing Conservator: What’s the Difference?
Unlike other states, Texas law does not recognize the term “sole child custody.” Instead, Texas family law refers to “custody” as “conservatorship.” A conservator is a person who is awarded custody of a child.
In states that recognize sole custody, the parent who is awarded sole (or full) custody of the child has the right and responsibility to make major decisions regarding their children.
Texas recognizes three forms of conservatorship:
- Joint managing conservator – The most common type of conservatorship in Texas is when both parents are named joint managing conservators and share the decision-making power over significant issues, including education, religion, and healthcare.
- Sole managing conservator – This type of conservatorship is awarded under limited circumstances, which we will discuss below. A sole managing conservator obtains the exclusive right to make most decisions regarding the child.
- Possessory conservator – Under Texas Family Code § 153.191, when one parent is appointed as the sole managing conservator, the other parent is usually named the possessory conservator. While a possessory conservator retains the same rights and responsibility as any other parent, they do not have the final say on most major decisions and cannot decide the primary residence of the child.
Is It Easy to Obtain Full Custody in Texas?
No, it is not easy to obtain sole custody or become a sole managing conservator in Texas. Texas Family Code § 153.001 reads that the public policy of the State of Texas is to ensure that children have “frequent and continuing contact” with parents who are able to act in the best interest of the child.
Proving that the other parent has no ability to act in the child’s best interests to become a sole managing conservator is extremely difficult. However, while obtaining full custody is not easy, it does not mean that you cannot be named a sole managing conservator in Texas.
A parent can obtain sole custody of their child under the following circumstances:
- They can prove that sole managing conservatorship would be the best custody arrangement for the child;
- There are legitimate grounds to terminate the other parent’s parental rights; or
- The other parent voluntarily relinquishes their parental rights.
Terminating Parental Rights to Become the Sole Managing Conservator in Texas
One of the ways to be awarded sole custody rights of your child in Texas is by terminating the other parent’s parental rights. However, terminating parental rights requires you to demonstrate clear and convincing evidence to prove that doing so would be in the best interest of the child.
Texas Family Code § 161.001 provides a complete list of grounds for terminating parental rights. Parental rights may be terminated if you can prove that the other parent:
- Left the child with another individual, but not the other parent, with no intent to return for longer than three months without providing any support for the child;
- Left the child alone or with another individual, but not the other parent, for at least six months without providing “adequate support”;
- Abandoned the mother during pregnancy and for a period through the birth with knowledge of her pregnancy;
- Placed the child or allowed him/her to remain in surroundings that threatened the child’s emotional and/or physical well-being;
- Did not support the child in accordance to their ability for a period of time;
- Has been convicted of sexually assaulting or murdering the other parent;
- Has been convicted or placed on community supervision for inflicting bodily injury or causing the death of a child;
- Left the child with persons who engaged in conduct that threatened the safety and well-being of the child (or engaged in that conduct himself/herself);
- Abandoned the child without identifying them; or
- Used a controlled substance or alcohol during pregnancy, which caused harmful effects, withdrawal symptoms, or traces of a controlled substance in the child’s bodily fluids.
You Need a Custody Attorney to Become a Sole Managing Conservator
Sole managing conservatorship is rarely awarded unless it is in the best interests of the child to have one of the parents named as a sole managing conservator.
You have the burden of proof to overcome the presumption that it is in the best interests of the child to have both parents as joint managing conservators.
An experienced Harker Heights custody attorney can help you overcome the presumption to obtain full custody of your child. Your lawyer can present your arguments in a convincing manner to successfully petition the court for sole managing conservatorship in Texas.
In some cases, the judge may conduct an interview with the child who is at least 12 years old when reviewing a parent’s petition for sole managing conservatorship. The judge will consider the child’s wishes as to conservatorship and the determination of their primary residence.
Call Us Today to Schedule a Consultation with a Custody Lawyer in Harker Heights
If you want to obtain full custody of your child by becoming a sole managing conservator, it is highly advised to seek legal counsel to explore your options. At The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard, we are committed to helping our clients navigate through the legal process and assist parents with custody matters in Texas. Call (254) 220-4225 or submit this contact form to receive a free case evaluation.