Conservatorship orders divide various parental rights and duties, including (1) the right to make major decisions regarding the children; (2) the right to have physical possession of the children; and (3) the duty to financially support the children among the parents after the divorce. The possessory conservator may be virtually eliminated from the process of making decisions concerning health, education and welfare. The sole managing conservator takes sole responsibility for a child, making all the important decisions regarding health (both mental and physical), education, and moral or religious upbringing alone.
Conservatorship is governed by state laws. For example, the legal presumption in Texas is that the parents should be named joint managing conservators, so that parental rights and responsibilities are divided between the parents or exercised by agreement. When joint managing conservatorship is awarded, the parties or the judge must decide on how to divide the rights and duties, which is written into the decree.
The following is an example of a law governing possessory and managing conservators:
Family Code § 153.005. Appointment of Sole or Joint Managing Conservator:
- In a suit, the court may appoint a sole managing conservator or may appoint joint managing conservators. If the parents are or will be separated, the court shall appoint at least one managing conservator.
- A managing conservator must be a parent, a competent adult, an authorized agency, or a licensed child-placing agency.
Family Code § 153.006. Appointment of Possessory Conservator:
- If a managing conservator is appointed, the court may appoint one or more possessory conservators.
- The court shall specify the rights and duties of a person appointed possessory conservator.
- The court shall specify and expressly state in the order the times and conditions for possession of or access to the child, unless a party shows good cause why specific orders would not be in the best interest of the child.