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What do child custody legal words and phrases really mean?

On Behalf of | May 25, 2023 | Child Custody |

Many people dealing with a family law issue do not completely understand the phrases and words they may encounter in a divorce. Even worse, legal terminology often varies from state to state, potentially causing even more confusion.

Incorrectly interpreting legalese in a divorce could compromise your or your child’s interests. Consider learning more about family law terminology to enhance your protection. Below are a few definitions to kick off your education.

Conservatorship (of a child)

One common misconception is that “child custody” is the only term courts use when discussing kids and parental responsibilities. In Texas, courts use the word conservatorship instead, and it has nothing to do with the time parents spend with their children.

Conservatorship defines the responsibilities and rights of each parent, where the children will live and parental decision-making rights.

Access and possession

In Texas, you may hear “access and possession” in place of (or in addition to) child visitation. These words describe the minimum time your children will spend with each parent. Possession means in-person time, while access refers to other contact or access methods (phone calls, video chats, etc.).

Access and possession are binding court orders usually included with your Decree of Divorce.

Best interests of the child

In all states, this phrase refers to a set of principles family law judges rely on when making decisions involving a child. To arrive at the best interests of your child, the court may look at:

  • Each parent’s ability to provide for the kids
  • Each parent’s mental and physical health
  • Religious or cultural issues
  • Stability of parental homes
  • Many other factors

You can be sure the court wants to protect your kids from hardships, but they can make mistakes. Consider obtaining legal representation to help ensure your child-related court orders are best for your family.