A common misconception in the arena of Texas family law is that conservatorship and custody are the same thing. In the state of Texas, conservatorship is the designation as to which parent has the right to make certain decisions and exercise certain duties.
A parent designated as sole managing conservator has all exclusive rights regarding the children and does not share them with the other parent. These rights and duties are set out in section 153.132 of the Texas Family Code. The other parent is designated as the possessory conservator with limited rights but still may exercise possession and visitation with the children.
In Texas there is a presumption that parents shall be appointed as joint managing conservators of a child. Most divorces or custody suits result in parents being named as joint managing conservators. The presumption of joint managing conservatorship may be rebutted with facts showing that the child’s emotional and physical well being would be impaired by the appointment of the parents as joint managing conservators. This is often evidenced by documented neglect or abuse. A parent who has been granted a protective order against the other parent due to domestic or familial violence is entitled to be appointed sole managing conservator.