Texas uses the term “conservator” to broadly include anyone with a court-ordered relationship with a child. You may hear the term “joint managing conservator”, “sole managing conservator”, “possessory conservator”, or “non-parent conservator” – or any combination of these terms (e.g., “non-parent sole managing conservator”). A conservator may be a parent, a relative, a family friend, or even the State of Texas (CPS).
Generally speaking, a “possessory conservator” is someone who has the right of access/visitation with the children, but little else. Conversely, a “managing conservator” is someone who has the rights that are typically associated with parenting a child–the right to make medical and educational decisions for a child.
The particular title that a person has is not as important as the rights and duties that come along with the title. Not all titles are equal, and just because two people are “joint managing conservators” together does not mean that those two people have equal rights and duties. Any court order that labels somebody as a conservator will also address the particular rights and duties that the person will have.