Often in initial consultations, we hear clients use terms like “primary custody”, “main parent”, and “shared rights”. These terms do not always translate into what is articulated in the Texas Family Code. In Texas, instead of using the term “custody” when talking about parental rights and duties, we use the term “Conservator”.
In Chapter 153 of the Texas Family Code is where we find these “rights and duties” enumerated, which include:
- to receive information from any other conservator of the child concerning the health, education, and welfare of the child;
- to confer with the other parent to the extent possible before making a decision concerning the health, education, and welfare of the child;
- of access to medical, dental, psychological, and educational records of the child;
- to consult with a physician, dentist, or psychologist of the child;
- to consult with school officials concerning the child’s welfare and educational status, including school activities;
- to attend school activities, including school lunches, performances, and field trips;
- to be designated on the child’s records as a person to be notified in case of an emergency;
- to consent to medical, dental, and surgical treatment during an emergency involving an immediate danger to the health and safety of the child; and
- to manage the estate of the child to the extent the estate has been created by the parent or the parent’s family.
In most cases, unless there is an agreement, it is going to be up to the court to determine if these rights and duties are given to the parents: (1) independently, (2) by joint agreement, or (3) exclusively by one parent.
Unless otherwise limited by the court, where a parent has been appointed as a parent conservator, the parent will have the following rights and duties while in possession of the child:
- the duty of care, control, protection, and reasonable discipline of the child;
- the duty to support the child, including providing the child with clothing, food, shelter, and medical and dental care not involving an invasive procedure;
- the right to consent for the child to medical and dental care not involving an invasive procedure; and
- the right to direct the moral and religious training of the child.
Every case is different and figuring out what makes the most sense to pursue in your case is a discussion to have with an attorney that is familiar with family law in Texas.