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November 5, 2020

What is joint managing conservatorship (JMC)?

Joint managing conservatorship (JMC) is when the rights and duties of a parent are shared by both parties. However, exclusive right to make certain decisions (like where the child lives) may be awarded to one party.1

JMC can be established either by an agreement from the parents or a court order. If the parents come to an agreement about sharing managing conservatorship, the agreement must be approved by a judge.2

When making a decision about JMC, the judge will consider what is in the best interest of the child, which includes:

  • whether the physical, psychological, or emotional needs and development of the child will benefit from joint managing conservators;
  • the ability of the parents to give first priority to the welfare of the child and reach shared decisions in the child’s best interest;
  • whether each parent can encourage and accept a positive relationship between the child and the other parent;
  • whether both parents participated in child upbringing before the filing of the suit;
  • the geographical closeness of the parents’ residences;
  • if the child is 12 years of age or older, the child’s preference, if any, regarding the person to have the exclusive right to decide where the child will live; and
  • any other relevant factor.3

If both parents are made conservators, the judge will specify the responsibilities each parent has separately and jointly.4

Even if the judge grants joint managing conservatorship, s/he may still make one parent the primary joint managing conservator, also known as the “custodial parent” and the other parent would be the possessory joint managing conservator. The custodial parent has the right to determine the primary (main) residence of the child. All other decisions are made by both parents.5

Note: When a judge makes both parents joint managing conservators it does not mean that each parent will necessarily get equal or nearly equal possession of and access to the child.6

1 Tex. Fam. Code § 101.016
2 Tex. Fam. Code § 153.133
3 Tex. Fam. Code § 153.134(a)
4 Tex. Fam. Code § 153.071
5 The Texas Young Lawyer’s Association, What to Expect in Texas Family Law Court (2010)
6 Tex. Fam. Code § 153.135