We briefly mentioned in our last post the concept of conservatorship. In Texas family law, conservatorship of a child is generally synonymous with what people mean by child custody. This is obviously important in a child custody case, but let’s look at another context in which conservatorship plays a role: that of an adoption.
First, let’s look at exactly what adoption means in the eyes of the law. Adoption is a lifelong commitment to a new child joining your family. Generally, once initial paperwork is complete, the child will live with the new family for a period of 6 months, after which the adoption may become permanent. However, if the child has already been living with the family in a foster arrangement or is otherwise familiar with them, it’s possible to ask that a judge make the adoption permanent by filing a “petition to adopt” with the court.
Adoption provides protections for the child in terms of lifelong support and a stable home. They also will potentially be able to inherit from both their birth parents as well as their adoptive parents. Adoption provides some protections for the adoptive parents too: they are effectively equal to the child’s birth parents in terms of their legal rights.
It is possible for a court to assign legal responsibility for a child to an adult (perhaps a foster parent, a relative or friend) without that adult adopting the child, however. This is accomplished through what Texas family courts call Permanent Managing Conservatorship. We’ll discuss what that scenario entails in our follow-up post, reminding our readers that the information is general in nature only and not specific legal advice.