Sole Custody in Texas

Case Review

How To Get Full Custody in Texas

Nearly 50% of marriages in America end in separation or divorce. Most of the time, these life-changing situations are charged with so much emotion that it’s hard to keep your priorities, namely your children, in mind. Plenty of parents will try to get sole custody of their kids once their marriage ends. Usually, this is due to two reasons; out of a genuine belief that their children will be much better off with them or to spite and punish their former spouse. However, the word ‘custody’ doesn’t exist in the Texas legal system, and the state doesn’t have provisions for sole custody.

Texas uses the word ‘conservatorship’ instead. The state further breaks it down to managing and possessory conservators. Additionally, winning sole custody or conservatorship in Texas can be quite difficult as the courts usually act in the child’s best interests. That includes making sure they spend enough time with both their parents. If you want to be the custodial parent, you must prove that your ex-spouse poses a significant threat to your child’s mental or physical well-being.

Parental Rights

There are two types of managing conservators – sole and joint conservators – each with varying parental rights. The sole managing conservator will have exclusive decision-making rights over the child. Parental rights are the rights and duties exclusively granted to custodial parents, giving them the right to decide for their children. If you are named the sole managing conservator in Texas, the Texas Family Code Section 153.074 grants you the following rights;

  • The right to decide your child’s primary residence
  • The right to allow medical, dental, and invasive surgical procedures
  • The right to allow psychological and psychiatric treatment
  • The right to represent your child in legal settings and make legal decisions affecting them on their behalf
  • The right to make choices involving your child’s education
  • The right to your child’s services and earnings
  • The right to receive child support and use it for the child’s benefit
  • The right to consent to marriage and enlistment in the U.S. armed forces
  • The right to act as your child’s guardian in the event the U.S. or a foreign state requires their action

Unlike a sole managing conservator, a joint managing conservator shares the rights and duties with the other parent. In the spirit of putting the child’s interests first, Texas law currently has a presumption that both parents should be named joint conservators. Getting custody and having the other parent stripped of their parental rights, especially if they are a dedicated and involved parent, is an uphill task. So how can you prove that living with the other parent would harm your child and that you are the better option?


As a parent, doing or not doing certain things can result in losing your parental rights. If you can prove that your former spouse took an action that is considered abandonment, you will be more likely to be designated sole managing conservator. For instance, a parent who leaves their child with someone other than the other parent and states that they will not return, the state of Texas will consider it abandonment. The following also qualify as child abandonment under Texas child abandonment laws;

  • Leaving the child with another person without providing any financial support and not communicating for at least three months
  • Barely making an effort to communicate with and support the child
  • Leaving the child at home for a period of time that presents a significant risk of harm for the child
  • Leaving an infant on the side of the road, on a doorstep, or in dumpsters and trash cans
  • Engaging in acts that endanger the child’s physical or emotional well-being
  • Being unwilling to take care of, support, and supervise the child
  • Failing to maintain regular visitations with the child for at least six months
  • Failing to attend child protective proceedings
  • Failing to take part in a plan or program designed to reestablish contact with the child


Criminal Activity

Engaging in criminal activity, especially those that risk the child’s health, can also cause a parent to lose some or all of their parental rights. Your chances of stripping a parent of their parental rights and getting full custody will increase if;

  • They are under community supervision or have been convicted for the serious injury or death of a child
  • They have been convicted of sexually assaulting or murdering the other parent
  • They used controlled substances in a way that risked the child’s safety
  • They have failed to complete a court-ordered sobriety program
  • They took controlled substances while pregnant and gave birth to a child with drug neonatal abstinence syndrome

Contact an Experienced Child Custody Lawyer

Naturally, most cases are determined on a case-by-case basis. Your lawyer will go over the specifics with you, gather evidence, help you build your case, and, if necessary, represent you in court. However, the courts will ultimately do what they believe is in your child’s best interests. If your ex-spouse meets one or more of the conditions explained above, you will likely receive sole custody.

Are you currently going through a divorce and a messy custody battle in San Antonio? Contact Zarka Law Firm today for a free case review. We will use all our extensive legal knowledge and experience to help you and your kids achieve a favorable outcome and, hopefully, return to some semblance of normalcy.

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