“Custodial” Parent Rights And Responsibilities In Texas

Child Custody Attorney

Getting divorced in Texas can be emotionally devastating and expensive. It can be even worse when the two parties are fighting over custody of their child. Learn about your rights and responsibilities as a “custodial” parent below. Then, contact our child custody attorneys in Dallas at Orsinger, Nelson, Downing & Anderson for legal help.

The Best Interests Of The Child

First, understand that the statutes and public policy of Texas state that it is in the child’s best interest for both parents to raise them. This is referred to, in simple terms, as joint managing conservatorship.

If you wish to be the sole managing conservator or enjoy primary custody, you must prove to the court that having such status is in your child’s best interest (and often, for sole managing conservatorship, that the other party should not be allowed to make decisions for the child). When the parents cannot agree on how custody will be arranged, the family court judge must resolve the disputes.

“Custodial” Parents’ Rights

If you get “primary” custody, you usually have the exclusive rights to designate the primary residence of the child and to receive child support. Other states call this “primary physical custody” when referring to this status.

You could be the “custodial parent” if both agree regarding custodial rights. This situation also may arise if the child has only one parent in their life (i.e., a parent’s death, termination of rights, or complete absence). The custodial parent has much of the practical decision-making ability about the child’s life, and it is a big decision by the judge, who will render such a decision after reviewing these factors:

  • Your ability to provide excellent care and a stable environment for the child;
  • Your ability to care for the emotional and physical needs of your child;
  • Your overall physical and mental health;
  • The age and preferences of the child;
  • Whether there is a history of neglect or abuse; and
  • These same factors for the other parent.

Non-Custodial Parents Rights

If the other party is a “non-custodial parent,” they may have access to the child. They may have the title of joint managing conservator. They may have numerous rights and duties. In some rare cases, they may even receive child support from the “primary” parent.

It is important, in any case, for all parties to follow the Court’s orders regarding notices to the other party, exchange of the child, and more.

A Standard Possession Order details the presumptive “non-custodial” parent’s rights to possession in Texas. The orders explain the parent’s rights, including how much time they can spend with the child (outside of agreements). This is only the baseline, however, and a Court still has wide latitude to alter this.


While the courts can order quite a wide amount of terms in relation to the possession, conservatorship, support, and more related to a child, the parents of a child are able to reach even more agreements.

Want a possession schedule the Court would never consider? An agreement will get you there.

Want to agree to lower (or higher) support than the guidelines? If it is agreed, it can be placed into a binding agreement.

However, when a case is not agreed in whole, the courts are constrained by the limits contained in the Texas Family Code.

Contact Our Child Custody Attorneys In Dallas Today

Child custody disputes are a challenging aspect of Texas divorces. But with proper legal assistance, you can have a favorable outcome to your custody case as a “custodial” or “non-custodial” parent. Please contact our child custody attorneys in Dallas at Orsinger, Nelson, Downing & Anderson at (214) 273-2400 for assistance.