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3 things to know about child custody in Texas

If you are going through a divorce and you have children, then child custody is likely to take center stage as part of your divorce negotiations or litigation. Depending on whether your divorce is relatively amicable or hostile, child custody can become a complicated and emotionally fraught situation with high stakes.

Every state has different laws regarding child custody in divorce cases. If you are facing a divorce in Texas, here are a few basic things you should know about child custody in the state.

1. The courts refer to child custody as "conservatorship"

Unlike many other states, the laws in Texas regarding child custody use the term "conservatorship" to describe child custody. This should not be confused with the term guardianship, which is when a person needs assistance managing their health, finances or daily affairs because he or she can no longer do so. Despite the difference in legal terminology, when you hear conservatorship in terms of the Texas court system, it refers to a child custody matter. If one parent receives sole custody, his or her title is the sole managing conservator.

2. Possession and access mean different things 

Under Texas child custody law, possession is the legal term used to refer to visitation time when one parent is physically with the child and decides where the child goes. Access is different, because it is not in person. Access refers to interactions with your child on the phone or through social media, attending extracurricular activities, and viewing medical, dental and school records, among others.

3. The court order will outline specifics

The Texas courts can order the Standard Possession Order, also referred to as SPO, which governs the parenting time that parents can spend with the children. However, in the majority of cases, there are certain rights shared by both parents.

To learn more about child custody specifics under Texas law, you should consult with a family law attorney. An attorney can help you examine your options and work through your child custody issues.

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