Texas uses the term “conservator” to describe the parent(s) in charge of managing a child’s care and making decisions about where the child will live, but the state operates much like other states when it comes to allocating those responsibilities. Ideally, the state usually prefers to have both parents involved in a child’s care as much as possible.
Is there ever a reason, then, for the court to give one parent sole conservatorship? Is there a good reason for a parent to ask?
Sometimes, having both parents actively involved in a child’s life really isn’t “in the best interests of the child” no matter which way you look at it. These include situations where:
- One parent is incarcerated: A parent who is in prison for an extended period can’t provide a home for a child or make decisions about their care. Depending on the situation, engaging with that parent may actually be detrimental to the child’s mental health.
- A parent has abandoned the child: Sometimes a parent seemingly disappears. Maybe they have problems that cause them to drop off the official radar or maybe they’re trying to avoid paying child support. Either way, that doesn’t make for a good parent-child relationship.
- A parent has a mental illness or substance abuse problem: Serious mental illness and substance abuse can both cause altered mental states and poor life choices — and could put a defenseless child at risk.
- A parent is neglectful or abusive: Abuse can be physical, mental or emotional, while neglect generally means failing to provide a child with the basic necessities, like adequate food, shelter, clothing, education and medical care.
If you think that any of these situations apply to your divorce and custody case, make sure that you have a conversation with your advocate early about the possibility of sole conservatorship.