Conservatorship means custody. However, conservatorship cases are about much more than mere possession of a child. These cases encompass all of a parent’s rights as well as obligations in relation to their child. The right to “possess” a child, manage their upbringing and make medical, educational, moral and religious decisions are just some of the topics addressed in a conservatorship case.
When a conflict arises, one parent (or a non-parent in some instances) can seek to limit the rights of the other parent and impose obligations on that other parent such as child support. As you might expect, these circumstances provoke some of the most heated and emotional legal battles imaginable. The bond between parent and child runs so deep that parties to a conservatorship dispute can easily lose their cool. Sometimes the parents become extremely defensive and even self-destructive.
As legal counsel, I want to remind you how your behavior and demeanor during a suit can be a huge benefit or huge detriment in getting the outcome you want. Conservatorship is about the child and the facts of the case. Your behavior should reflect this.
Child’s Best Interest and Case Facts
The primary consideration in determining conservatorship is the best interest of the child. Quite simply, conservatorship is about what is best for the child, and that is not necessarily what is best for you! Conservatorship is also not a means of punishment. Many parents enter custody proceedings with dislike or even disdain for their child’s mother/father. This is a natural response as most conservatorship proceedings are an offshoot of divorce, separation or some other discord between the parents. Dislike or disdain can cloud your judgment when it comes to conservatorship, however.
You need to keep in mind that conservatorship disputes, like other legal disputes, typically hinge on the facts of the case and not on who makes the biggest scene. Screaming the loudest, making the most demands, or playing the victim card with the most gusto will not help your case. If your actions show a willingness to put the child first and cooperate with the other party above your own selfish interests, you are much more likely to get a favorable judgment.
To this end, I would recommend that you take steps toward self-improvement while a case is ongoing. Address weaknesses you have as a parent and as a person. Your opponent will likely bring them up anyway, so deflect those concerns through self-evaluation prior to trial. Show the other side and the judge that, no matter how much you might dislike the other side, you are serious about keeping a long and healthy relationship with your child.
Agreement is Often Best
The judge (or jury) will determine conservatorship if you and the other party cannot come to an agreement, known as an “Agreed Parenting Plan.” I encourage parties to work together to come to an agreement because that is often what is best for the child. If conservatorship is left to them, judges typically apply what is called a “Standard Possession Order.” An SPO can work in many instances and even permits parents to deviate from it upon agreement.
However, if one parent is unhappy with the terms it can become unworkable. An Agreed Parenting Plan allows you to customize terms that work for the parents’ unique schedules and preferences. Compromising with the other party and coming to an agreement also lets you avoid harsh, cookie-cutter terms, which might be unduly burdensome in your situation.
In conclusion, as a party in a conservatorship case, the ability to manage your emotions and behavior play a large role in the outcome of your case. Taking steps to stay level headed, sticking to the facts, and putting the child’s interest above your own will serve you well.
For legal help with conservatorship related issues, call TLC Law, PLLC today at 903-871-1714 to see if we are a good fit for your case.