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Joint Managing Conservator: Rights and Duties

Rights and Duties of a Joint Managing Conservator

In Texas, it is presumed that two parents will be named Joint Managing Conservators. That means in short, that the two parents have rights to be a parent. Here, we will break down the rights and duties assigned to a parent who is named a Joint Managing Conservator.

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If you have questions regarding your rights as a Joint Managing Conservator, contact Hunt Law Firm today.

What Are the Rights and Duties I Need to Know About?

The Right to Establish the Primary Residence of the Child

The first right parents need to know about is which parent will establish the primary residence of the child. We refer to this parent as the “primary” parent. The only special right this parent has is the ability to choose where the child or children will live. Oftentimes, the child will be subject to a geographic restriction. That means that the child has to live within a certain geographical location. Sometimes this could mean the child is restricted to living in a certain county or a wide range of counties. It could even be that the child is restricted to living in a certain school district or within a certain radius from a specific school.

Heads, Meds, and Eds

In the family law world, there are three rights we typically carve out and make sure that we discuss. These rights are referred to as “heads, meds, and eds.”

“Heads” – Psychiatric and Psychological Treatment

This is any treatment related to mental health. Psychological treatments include counseling or talk therapy. Psychiatric treatment refers to any decision that concerns psychiatrists. Psychiatrists are doctors who can diagnose and treat mental disorders such as ADHD, depression, or bipolar disorder with medication.

“Meds” – Invasive Procedures

This right covers medical, dental, and surgical treatment involving invasive procedures. An invasive procedure is any kind of procedure that “pierces” the skin. Examples of an invasive procedure could be having wisdom teeth removed, vaccines, removal of warts, or any elective surgery.

“Eds” – Education Decisions

This right covers any educational decision. Examples of education decisions include holding a child back for a year, enrolling a child in upper-level or AP classes, enrolling a child in special education courses, pulling a child out of class for help with his/her dyslexia or discussing IEPs.

Other Rights and Duties

The following rights and duties are also discussed but not at length like “primary” and “heads, meds, and eds.” However, it is important to know that your order will detail these rights, so you want to ensure that you understand them.

  • Legal Action / Significance – This right allows a parent to represent the child in a legal action or make a decision of legal significance. An example of this would be a parent suing a driver of an accident on behalf of their child.
  • Child Support – If a parent is entitled to receive child support, that parent has the right to receive child support payments and hold those payments for the benefit of their child.
  • Marriage and Enlistment – This right gives a parent the ability to consent to marriage or enlist in the armed forces. In Texas, however, you cannot get married until you turn 18 nor can you enlist in the armed forces until you’re 18.
  • Services and Earnings – This right allows a parent to manage the services and earnings of the child. What does that mean? If your child is the next Tik Tok or Youtube star (or maybe the next Justin Bieber), this right gives a parent the ability to manage the child’s contracts and earnings from the shows or gigs.
  • Act as Agent – This right allows a parent to act on behalf of their child in the event the  child’s estate needs to be discussed with a State, the United States, or a foreign government. Most – if not all – family law practioners cannot tell you when this specified right has ever been used.
  • Passports – This right lays out who can apply for, renew and maintain or hold a child’s passports.
  • Manage Child’s Estate – This right allows a parent to manage the estate of the child if it has been created by that parent. A perfect example of this is that a parent can manage the monetary allowance that they give their child or manage the bank account that they create for their child.

Who Should Make the Decision About These Rights?

These rights laid out above can be exclusive, independent, or joint. So what does that mean?

  • Exclusive – If a right is exclusive that means that only one parent makes the decision. It is a unilateral decision made by one parent and it does not require the other parent’s approval. The other parent will not have a right to make any decision that is exclusively held.
  • Independent – This means that either parent can make the decision. Unlike an exclusive decision, parents can make their own decision without the other parent’s approval.
  • Joint – A joint right means that parents make a decision together. If parents cannot agree, they can elect a tiebreaker to break the decision. For example, the tiebreaker could be a physician for an invasive medial decision or the child’s school counselor for an education decision.

What is right for one family unit may not be the case for another family unit. To help determine what allocation of rights are best for your family, you should consult an attorney.

Are There Any Other Rights and Duties I Should Know About?

If parents are named Joint Managing Conservators, they also have additional rights when in possession of their child and at all other times. These rights may seem silly or straight forward, but they are essentially rights to be parents.

Rights While in Possession of the Child

The Duty to Care, Control, Protect and Reasonably Discipline the Child

This means that when a parent is with the child, they have a duty to care for their child, control their child, protect their child and reasonably discipline their child. A parent should care for their child and protect him or her from danger. A parent should also control their child meaning they control where the child goes and what the child participates in. And lastly, a parent can reasonably discipline their child as they see fit. Note that this does not say a parent may punish their child with corporal punishment.

The Duty to Support the Child With Food, Clothing, Shelter and Medical and Dental Care Not Involving Invasive Procedures

When a child is with a parent, that parent needs to provide the child with food, clothing and shelter. A parent is also allowed to administer medication to a sick child and support the child with care when they are sick.

The Right to Consent to Medical and Dental Care Not Involving an Invasive Procedure

When a parent is in possession of a parent, that parent has the ability to take their child to the doctor or dentist. Whether the child is sick or just needs a checkup, a parent can consent to any care so long as it does not involve an invasive procedure.

The Right to Direct the Moral and Religious Training of the Child

When a parent is with their child, they can practice their religion or direct the child’s moral upbringing. The other parent cannot control the other parent’s moral or religious views when not in possession of the child.

Duty to Provide Information

The following duties a parent has at all times. These are duties that are owed to the other parent to provide certain information. As you will notice, this is information that any parent would want to know.

  • The duty to provide significant information concerning the child’s health, education and welfare of the child.
  • The duty to inform the other parent if you live with, marry or intend to marry a registered sex offender or someone who has been charged with an offense that would require registration as a sex offender if convicted.
  • The duty to inform the other parent if you live with someone who has a final protective order entered against them.
  • The duty to inform the other parent if you live with or allow unsupervised access of your child to someone who has a final protective order issued against them.
  • The duty to inform the other parent if a final protective order was issued against you.

Rights at All Times

The other rights that parents have at all times are listed below. They are pretty self-explanatory.

  • The right to receive information from any other conservator of the child concerning the health, education, and welfare of the child;
  • The right to confer with the other parent to the extent possible before making a decision concerning the health, education, and welfare of the child;
  • The right of access to medical, dental, psychological, and educational records of the child;
  • The right to consult with a physician, dentist, or psychologist of the child;
  • The right to consult with school officials concerning the child's welfare and educational status, including school activities;
  • The right to attend school activities, including school lunches, performances, and field trips;
  • The right to be designated on the child's records as a person to be notified in case of an emergency;
  • The right to consent to medical, dental, and surgical treatment during an emergency involving an immediate danger to the health and safety of the child; and
  • The right to manage the estate of the child to the extent the estate has been created by the parent's family or by the parent, other than by the community or joint property of the parent.

If you have questions regarding a particular right, our knowledgeable attorneys can assist you in navigating these rights. Call (832) 781-0320 today.

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