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Legal Terms Used in Texas Divorce Cases

The Texas Family Code uses different legal terms to describe custody roles and functions, which can be confusing for people who are used to hearing words like custody, custodian, visitation, and other familiar divorce terms.  For example, under the Texas Family Code, a conservator is a custodian—usually a parent who has responsibilities and duties to take care of the child.  To clear up any confusion, here are some terms that parties frequently hear in Texas when dealing with child custody:

  • Standard possession order is an order that provides a parent with rights of possession of a child in accordance with the terms and conditions of Subchapter F, Chapter 153.  (Note that possession of a child refers to the non-custodial parent’s right to visitation.)
  • A managing conservator must be a parent, a competent adult, an authorized agency, or a licensed child placing agency.  The court may appoint a sole managing conservator or joint managing conservators.  If the parents are separated, the court appoints at least one managing conservator.
  • Managing conservatorship is the relationship between a child and a managing conservator appointed by court order.
  • Joint managing conservatorship is the sharing of the rights and duties of a parent by two parties, ordinarily the parents, even if the exclusive right to make certain decisions may be awarded to one party.
  • Possessory conservator is a term that the Texas Family Code defines by saying that if a managing conservator is appointed, the court may appoint one or more possessory conservators, and the court specifies their rights and duties, and specifies the times and conditions for possession of or access to the child.

By working closely with Texas divorce lawyers, parents can understand terms that the courts use.

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Robert Reid McInvale
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Robert Reid McInvale is an experienced family law attorney with a comprehensive practice in Houston. He provides dedicated and strong advocacy for his clients, helping them with all the issues surrounding their divorce, separation, child custody, and other marriage and family matters. Attorney McInvale—Reid to clients and friends—seemed destined for a law career. Born while his father was attending Emory University Law School, Reid grew up in Manchester, GA. His father was the city attorney for many years, as well as head of the Manchester Chamber of Commerce. It is in the family blood to become lawyers and help people get justice. U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall is part of the McInvale family tree.

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