Interim Executive Director
Monday - Friday
8:00 am to 4:30 pm
500 E. San Antonio
El Paso, Texas 79901
Phone (915) 834-8200
Fax (915) 834-8299
Management Action Plan
Domestic Relations Office
Child Custody & Rights
- Whenever important things are at stake, such as child
support, child custody and parental rights, debts or
property rights, you may need to hire an attorney.
Family Law is extremely complicated and no one other
tan an attorney can give you the guidance you would
receive from an attorney. The Family Law Information
Center ("FLIC") strongly suggests that at some time
during any family law legal process you consult
with an attorney even if you cannot afford to hire one
to completely handle your family law case for you.
- This flyer is intended to give basic information about child custody and parental rights after or during a
divorce or separation procedure.
- What makes someone a parent?
- The biological mother of a child is legally considered the child's parent, and an adoptive mother or father is legally a parent. A man is legally presumed to be a
child's father if he is married to the biological mother
when the child is born. However, under Texas law a child
born to unmarried parents has no legal father, unless
BOTH the father and mother sign a paper called an
"Acknowledgement of Paternity" and file it with the
Texas Bureau of Vital Statistics. There are other rules
concerning when a man is considered to be a child's
legal father, but they are too complex to explain in
this flyer. The law can be very complicated when it
comes to deciding whether a man is a legal father or
not, so when there is a question, it is always best to
consult an attorney.
- Parental rights in general, when there is
no court order.
- Normally, parents have many rights - to care for and discipline their children as they see fit (but NOT to be abusive or neglectful); to educate them as they think
appropriate, within the guidelines set by law and their
local school district; to make medical decisions for
their children. When both parents are together,
confusion and legal problems are not common. Most
problems arise when the two parents are separated. This
is a very difficult topic to explain in a flyer, because
the law depends so much on the particular circumstances.
Keep in mind that the information given here is very
general, and only an attorney can explain how the law
applies to your individual situation.
- In general, a parent has the right to possession of
their child. But if the parents separate, which one of
them has a greater right to possession of their child?
- The answer is - neither one. Texas law views both
mothers and fathers as equal, and they BOTH have a right
to possession of their child. If they cannot agree,
someone must file a lawsuit so a court can determine who
the child should live with, who has the right to make
decisions for the child, how much time the child should
spend with each parent, and other issues.
- Therefore, just because the kids have been living with
one parent since the separation doesn't mean the other
parent is violating any law by taking them and keeping
them- may not be a nice thing to do, but it's not
necessarily illegal unless there's a court order
specifying each parent's rights and times of possession.
- Parents vs. Non-Parents
- In general, when there is no court order, a parent has a greater right to possession of a child than a
non-parent. It does not matter whether the non-parent is
a grandparent, aunt, or daycare, and may not even
matter whether the other parent has given the non-parent
permission to have possession of the child. Obviously,
this could lead to some very unpleasant results when one
parent leaves a child with a non-parent, and the other
parent shows up and demands to take the child. Once
again, if the parents cannot agree, someone must file a
lawsuit so a court can determine everyone's rights and
- Custody Designations and Right
- Texas law uses special legal words to describe custody. If a child's parents are separated, the court may name
one or more "managing conservators" and one or more
"possessory conservators." If the court names more than
one "managing conservator" then they are usually called
"joint managing conservators."
- When one parent is the sole managing
- The managing conservator generally has more rights than
a possessory conservator. Usually, the managing
conservator is the one the child lives with most of the
time, whose home is the child's home for school
purposes, and who receives child support.
- Often, they are the only parent with the right to make
certain decisions for the child, such as medical and
educational decisions (although it depends on the
specific court order).
- The possessory conservator ("PC") is generally the one
who has visitation rights and pays child support. The
possessory conservator still has many important rights
as a parent , as long as the court does not specifically
take them away - rights that often go unnoticed, such as
the right to attend the child's school functions (even
when it's not"their" day to have the child) and the
right to have access to the child's educational and
medical information. If a non-custodial parent, whether
a possessory conservator or joint managing conservator,
wants to get information about their child from a
doctor's office or school, they should bring their court
order along with them, because schools and medical
providers may refuse to provide it without a written
- When the parents are joint managing
- When the court names people joint managing conservators,
they may share some rights. The court is supposed to
decide how to assign each right - does one parent alone
have that right? Do the two parents have to agree? Or do
they each have the right, to exercise whether the other
one agrees or not(which is very rare)? The court should
decide these matters and the court order will state
exactly what rights each parent has.
- The one right that is supposed to be assigned to just
one parent is the right to decide where the child will
live. However, if people agree to be JMCs and not give
either parent that exclusive right, some courts will