How to Settle Child Conservatorship in Texas: 4 Steps

Texas law encourages parties to settle their cases, especially when children are involved. Settling means parties reach an agreement and present it to the judge as a proposed final order. An order granted as a result of settlement is enforced just like an order rendered after a trial.

Settlement is recommended by judges, attorneys and other family law professionals as the best way to resolve a dispute over child conservatorship, possession or access. It keeps decision making in the parents’ hands and can often lead to less animosity, faster resolution and significant cost savings.

Custody X Change is software that creates customizable parenting plans and possession schedules for your settlement.

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Parents can reach a settlement on their own or via an alternate dispute resolution method. The surest way to get a court to okay your agreement is use to a resolution method that involves a neutral professional, such as 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 following closing forms required by the court.

Divorce case
Suit affecting the parent-child relationship

*Forms marked with an asterisk can be filled out by hand or replaced with a Custody X Change parenting plan made specifically for 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 to use a different possession schedule — for instance, one where parents spend equal time with the child — you can make your own schedule in minutes with the Custody X Change app. Then just print out the text version (automatically included in your Custody X Change parenting plan) and take it with you to court.

Your Custody X Change 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. The plan is a comprehensive look at everything that affects your children, and it can be edited in the app or in Microsoft Word to meet your court's unique requirements.

Whether you are submitting a 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 the parties in the case to have one each.
  • Have a family law professional review your documents.
Step 2: Prepare for court

The parent who filed the case may be required to read testimony when appearing before a judge. Take this time to prepare a truthful script you can read to meet evidence requirements. Use this sample testimony from Galveston County as a guide, substituting details to make it applicable to your case. Have a lawyer review your testimony, and remember that you can be charged with a crime if what you say in court is untrue.

If you were required to contact the attorney general’s office during your initial filing, call the court clerk and ask if the attorney general has filed anything in response. If not, you’re ready to move to Step 3. If the attorney general’s office has filed, talk to a lawyer about next steps. You may need to use the attorney general's process for deciding support.

If you’re divorcing, you can’t settle until at least 60 calendar days after you filed your petition (except in cases involving family violence). If you reach an agreement earlier, use the waiting period to prepare thoroughly.

Step 3: Go to court

When you’re ready to present your settlement agreement to a judge, call the clerk’s office to learn when and where your court hears cases that are settling (called uncontested cases).

During a time reserved for uncontested hearings, the parent who filed the case should head to the court clerk’s office. Respondents have the option to attend, as well.

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 Office of the Attorney General (if required)
  • Your written testimony (details above)

Give the clerk your answer or waiver of service forms. He or she will keep the originals and return stamped copies to you. Then the clerk will 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 his or her 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 children, he or she will 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.

Ask for a certified copy of each order for your records, 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 and the other parent agree not to have the employer withhold money owed for child support).

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

After you’ve settled

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

To do all of this and more with one tool, use Custody X Change. The app’s calendars, digital journal, shared expenses tracker and parenting plan template will make life after settlement as straightforward as they made settlement itself.

Custody X Change is software that creates customizable parenting plans and possession schedules for your settlement.

Prepare My Settlement Now

Custody X Change is software that creates customizable parenting plans and possession schedules for your settlement.

Prepare My Settlement