Joint Conservatorship Law and Legal Definition

Joint conservatorship is the default arrangement for child custody in Texas. Under joint managing conservatorship, parents share responsibility for major decision making on behalf of the child in matters such as education, religion, and medical crises. One of the parents is appointed as the primary managing conservator. The child may live primarily with this parent, who has the day-to-day responsibility for caring for the child. The primary managing conservator usually receives child support from the other parent. Either fathers or mothers can be appointed as primary joint managing conservators. The court will appoint the parents as joint conservators only if the appointment is in the best interest of the child. Following factors will be taken into consideration before court orders Joint Conservatorship.

  • whether the physical, psychological, or emotional needs and development of the child will benefit from the appointment of joint managing conservators;
  • The ability of the parents to give first priority to the welfare of the child and reach shared decisions in the child's best interest;
  • whether each parent can encourage and accept a positive relationship between the child and the other parent;
  • whether both parents participated in child rearing before the filing of the suit;
  • The geographical proximity of the parents' residences;
  • If the child is 12 years of age or older, the child's preference, if any, regarding the person to have the exclusive right to designate the primary residence of the child; and
  • Any other relevant factor.

The relevant law as it appears in the Statute.

Tex. Fam. Code § 153.134. Court-Ordered Joint Conservatorship

(a) If a written agreed parenting plan is not filed with the court, the court may render an order appointing the parents joint managing conservators only if the appointment is in the best interest of the child, considering the following factors:

(1) whether the physical, psychological, or emotional needs and development of the child will benefit from the appointment of joint managing conservators;

(2) the ability of the parents to give first priority to the welfare of the child and reach shared decisions in the child's best interest;

(3) whether each parent can encourage and accept a positive relationship between the child and the other parent;

(4) whether both parents participated in child rearing before the filing of the suit;

(5) the geographical proximity of the parents' residences;

(6) if the child is 12 years of age or older, the child's preference, if any, regarding the person to have the exclusive right to designate the primary residence of the child; and

(7) any other relevant factor.

(b) In rendering an order appointing joint managing conservators, the court shall:

(1) designate the conservator who has the exclusive right to determine the primary residence of the child and:

(A) establish, until modified by further order, a geographic area within which the conservator shall maintain the child's primary residence; or

(B) specify that the conservator may determine the child's primary residence without regard to geographic location;

(2) specify the rights and duties of each parent regarding the child's physical care, support, and education;

(3) include provisions to minimize disruption of the child's education, daily routine, and association with friends;

(4) allocate between the parents, independently, jointly, or exclusively, all of the remaining rights and duties of a parent as provided by Chapter 151; and

(5) if feasible, recommend that the parties use an alternative dispute resolution method before requesting enforcement or modification of the terms and conditions of the joint conservatorship through litigation, except in an emergency.