BACK TO BLOG July 7, 2019

Can I Get Sole Custody?

We get this question a lot. But as with any type of legal case, the answer really depends on the situation. First, what does sole custody mean?

Sole Managing Conservator or Joint Managing Conservator

Sole custody (or sometimes called fully custody) is simply a reference to someone who has sole managing conservatorship. A sole managing conservator is someone who is granted the exclusive right to make  decisions for the child. Types of rights a sole managing conservator gets is:

  1. the right to decide where the child lives,
  2. the right to consent to medical, dental, surgical, or psychological treatments,
  3. the right to make legal decisions for the child,
  4. the right to make educational decisions for the child.

This list is not exhaustive. And the key distinction between a sole managing conservatorship and a joint managing conservator is whether these rights are *exclusive* or joint.  When people ask about getting sole custody, usually the are referring to having the exclusive right to make decisions for the child.

Can I get Sole Custody?

In Texas custody cases, there is a presumption that it is in the best interests of the child for there to be joint managing conservatorship. But in determining whether a parent should get sole custody, the Court will consider things such as:

  1. Danger to the child
  2. Drug use of the parents
  3. Abuse allegations
  4. Stability of the environment
  5. Emotional and physical needs of the child
  6. In some cases, what the child wants (for more info, click HERE)

Ultimately, a Judge must consider the best interests of the child in making a determination on custody. Courts across the State, especially in East Texas, want to encourage a child to have both parents involved in their lives. So, getting sole custody requires showing a court that it is in the best interests of the child to limit the possession, access and control of one of the parents is actually best for the child.

Sole Custody is not the same as Terminating Parental Rights

When asking a court about custody, understand that if you are asking for sole custody or full custody, you are not asking for termination of parental rights. You are asking to limit the amount of time the other parent has with the child and you are asking to limit the types of decisions the other parent is able to make. Terminating parental rights is a completely different issue.