How to Settle Child Conservatorship in Texas: 4 Steps

Family law professionals consider settling the best way to resolve a dispute over a child. It keeps decision-making in the parents' hands and often leads to less animosity, faster resolution and significant cost savings.

Settling means you reach an agreement with the other parent and present it to the judge as a proposed final order. If approved, the order can be enforced just like one rendered after a trial.

Visualize your schedule. Get a written parenting plan. Calculate your parenting time.

Prepare My Settlement Now

Parents reach a settlement on their own or via an alternative dispute resolution method. The surest way to get a court to approve your agreement is use to a method that involves a neutral professional, like mediation or collaborative law.

Once you open a family law case and negotiate an agreement, follow the steps below to finalize your settlement; this can happen at any point in the court process. Talk to a lawyer or use other custody resources if you need help.

Step 1: Complete your final paperwork

Complete the closing forms required by the court.

Divorce case

Suit affecting the parent-child relationship

*Forms marked with an asterisk may be replaced with a Custody X Change parenting plan specific to your family.

One court form parents often replace is the Standard Possession Order. If you use the form, one parent will have the child most of the time, while the other will see the child on Thursdays and the first, third, and fifth weekend of each month. The form only allows for minor variations to this schedule.

If you want a different possession schedule — for instance, one where parents spend equal time with the child — you can make your own schedule with the Custody X Change online app. The schedule will print as part of your Custody X Change parenting plan.

Your parenting plan may also be able to take the place of an Order in a Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship, a Conservatorship Order, a Child Support Order and a Medical and Dental Support Order, depending on the details you include.

Whether you use a court form or a personalized document, follow these guidelines:

  • Anyone who signs before changes are made must initial all changes.
  • Make enough copies for the judge and each parent case to have one.
  • Have a legal professional review your documents.

Step 2: Prepare for court

The parent who filed the case may have to read testimony when they go before a judge. Prepare a script you can read to meet evidence requirements. Have a lawyer review it, and remember that you can be charged with a crime if you say something untrue in court.

If you were required to contact the attorney general's office during your initial filing, ask the court clerk whether the attorney general has filed anything in response. If they have, talk to a lawyer about next steps. You may need to use the attorney general's process for deciding child support.

Step 3: Go to court

The parent who filed the case should head to the court clerk's office during a time for uncontested hearings. (Ask your clerk for a schedule.) Respondents have the option to attend too. Keep in mind that divorcing parents must wait until their case is at least 60 days old (except for cases with family violence).

Bring the completed papers from Step 1, along with:

  • A copy of your original petition stamped by the court clerk
  • Each respondent's completed Original Answer or Waiver of Service Only form, plus a copy (See Step 4 of the initial filing process.)
  • Proof that you sent a copy of your petition to the attorney general's office (if you were required to)
  • Your written testimony

Give the clerk your answer or waiver of service forms. They will return the copies to you stamped. Then they'll point you to your courtroom.

In the courtroom, give the clerk on duty all of your paperwork and wait in the sitting area.

When the judge calls your case, stand in front of their bench. You'll swear to tell the truth, and the judge will ask you questions or have you read testimony.

If the judge sees no issues with your paperwork and decides the agreement is in the best interest of your child, they'll sign your final orders.

Step 4: Finalize your settlement

Now, head back to the clerk's office and turn in any documents the judge signed, as well as your completed Information on Suit Affecting the Family Relationship form. This finalizes your settlement.

For your records, ask for a certified copy of each order, and pay the fees.

If child support was ordered, ask the clerk how to set up a child support account. Also, ask the clerk to send a copy of the Income Withholding Order for Support to the employer of the parent who will be paying (unless you've agreed not to have the employer withhold money).

After you leave the courthouse, send a stamped copy of your orders to each respondent.

After you've settled

The child conservatorship journey continues even after you receive final orders. Now your responsibilities include:

To do all of this and more, use Custody X Change.

The online app's customizable calendars, parent-to-parent messaging, expense tracker and parenting plan template will make life after settlement as straightforward as they made settlement itself.

Visualize your schedule. Get a written parenting plan. Calculate your parenting time.

Prepare My Settlement Now

Explore examples of common schedules

Explore common schedules

Join the 60,000+ other parents who have used our co-parenting tools

Organize your evidence

Track your expenses, journal what happens, and record actual time. Print organized, professional documents.

Co-parent civilly

Our parent-to-parent messaging system, which detects hostile language, lets you collaborate without the drama.

Get an accurate child support order

Child support is based on parenting time or overnights in most jurisdictions. Calculate time instead of estimating.

Succeed by negotiating

Explore options together with visual calendars and detailed parenting plans. Present alternatives and reach agreement.

Never forget an exchange or activity

Get push notifications and email reminders, sync with other calendar apps and share with the other parent.

Save up to $50,000 by avoiding court

Write your parenting agreement without lawyers. Our templates walk you through each step.

Prepare My Settlement

Bring calm to co‑parenting. Agree on a schedule and plan. Be prepared with everything documented.

Prepare My Settlement Now

No thanks, I don't need a parenting plan