To begin with, I don't think that every family situation should end up with parents having equal time in access with their children at the end of a family law case. Many factors determine what is best for a family as far as the division of time with the kids is concerned. What works well for your family in the best interest of your children may not be accurate for the family across the street. Families have many different circumstances that come into play and can impact the ability for families to have meaningful time together and build solid relationships despite the challenges of living in separate households.
For example, in some homes, one parent or the other may have a work schedule that does not lend itself easily toward being available frequently enough to have their children equally in their position compared to the other parent. You may be an emergency room doctor or a trucker who drives cross-country in his out of state a great deal of time. It will be unrealistic to expect you to spend time with your children with that sort of employment also to be responsible for.
Your family may also have circumstances that involve violence or abuse that would make it completely inappropriate for one parent to have equal time with their children than the other parent does. In situations like these, it would make even more sense without parent too have restricted or even supervised Visitation until the family can figure out that is safe and in the best interest of the children To have more time with that parent. All circumstances like these do not occur very often. They are relevant to discuss, in my opinion.
Equal parenting time sounds ideal. From my experience working with many families going through divorces or child custody cases, the idea that a parent could share time with their children equally with the other parent sounds friendly and fair from the get-go. However, while this idea sounds nice, it is practically impossible to structure Visitation and possession in a way that is precisely even between parents. The reality is that parents need to be flexible, which means that it is unlikely that they will be able to share in possession time in the same format in structure.
Especially from fathers, I hear a lot that parents want to be treated as equals with the other parent. However, fathers usually hold this position because their idea of a family law case is one where judges and the legal system in general favors mothers when it comes to allocating possession time. While this is not explicitly true, it seems to be a trend that mothers seemed to be able to win primary conservative ship of their children more often than fathers, for example. Keep in mind that there is a lot more to this than a simple division of time. Let's walk through why parenting time between parents differs in many circumstances.
Why do mothers tend to end up with more time with their kids than fathers after a divorce?
As I noted a moment ago, it is typically fathers who seek to have equal time with their children compared to mothers. On the other hand, I rarely encounter a mother who walks into a consultation with our office and tells me that they want equal time with their children compared to the child's father. Why is there this degree of disparity between the two? For one, I think the expectation levels of parents differ heading into divorce or child custody cases based on whether or not they are the child-mother or father.
Although the law in Texas explicitly states that preference in conservatorships cannot be based on sex or gender, the vast majority of mothers seem to win primary custody of their kids more often than not. Why is this? Do judges favor mothers over fathers despite the law telling them that they may not do so? Are mothers better parents than fathers on the whole? Or do mothers care more about their children and push for primary custody more than fathers do?
More than any of these things being true, the circumstances that families find themselves in at the beginning of family law cases tend to favor mothers when it comes to division of parenting time. Let me explain why that is; it is not as if fathers do not care how much time they spend with their kids. On the contrary, the vast majority of fathers involved in family law cases, from my experience, want to be able to spend as much time as possible with their kids. Many of his fathers go through extreme measures in attempts to promote their relationship with their kids. I could do everything possible to be available to the kids before, during, and after a family lock case completes itself. Overall, I could not say honestly that fathers love their children any less than any mothers do.
However, the make-up of most families lends itself towards mothers being in a better position to become primary conservators of their children at the beginning of a divorce or child custody case. This is because the father is typically working more and having their focus within the family be more on providing for the family financially. Yes, mothers work more now than they may have in years past, but a mother's focus tends to be more on the children than a father's. Mothers typically are the ones to spend time at home with the kids when they are not working, and this allows fathers to spend more time outside of the house making a living for the family. Whether this is a good thing or a bad thing on a long-term basis is anyone's guess.
Regarding the world of Texas family law and place his father in a position That is unenviable when trying to make arguments to become the primary conservator of their children. Often fathers who are well-meaning work long and arduous hours to provide for their families. Once a divorce or child custody case comes along, their focus may shift to wanting to become primary conservators of their children. Fathers may see this as a way to have a solidified amount of time with the kids where they will not run the risk of having time with their children tonight in the future.
What gets in the way of his goal is the nature of the mother's relationship with the children to provide care more consistently. If a father is outside the home working, he is, as a general rule, unable to provide the day-to-day care that a mother can and does. This does not mean that the father is incapable of caring for a child like a mother. This does not mean that the mother necessarily does a better job of being a parent. What it does mean is that mothers have an established role within that family of providing care. Judges are not typically in favor of disrupting systems within a family that are working well. This is the first way that fathers face an uphill battle when attempting two at least earn equal time with their children after a family during case.
In divorces, if one parent is to leave the family home, it is typically the father. Under challenging circumstances involving divorce, fathers will see they're going home to make peace with their spouse and avoid conflict that could negatively impact the children. For this reason, fathers may choose to leave the family home once it is apparent that a divorce will be in the cards. In doing so, what a father thinks to be a good gesture towards the children and their spouse ends up being detrimental to their case in arguing for primary conservatorships.
By leaving the family home, it is more straightforward to make a case that the father is neglecting his duties as a parent. While this was not the intent of the father to do this, his actions can be argued as attempting to remove himself from a difficult parenting situation. While this may be in the kids' best interest, there is an argument that leaving the mother alone with children during this time is not in their best interest, either. For this reason, I will generally recommend that absent violence in the home; the father should remain in the family home as long as possible.
When is it best for children to have their parents split time evenly with them after a family law case?
There are circumstances where it would make sense for parents to share time in possession of their children evenly. If you have read this blog post closely, you can probably already tell where I'm coming from. If you and your spouse both have flexible jobs in terms of scheduling and location, then sharing possession equally may be a good idea. While many families idealize the even possession split, the reality of the situation is that this type of possession schedule necessitates a great deal of logistical flexibility. If your family does not have flexibility with its plan, precisely the work schedule, I could not recommend a 50/50 split in custody time.
You should also look to the nature of each parent's relationship with their children When determining what sort of possession schedule is appropriate. Even if a father is well-intentioned as far as his desire to begin to spend more time at home, the fact of the matter is that depending on that parent's relationship with inclusion; it may not be in the kids best interest for the kids to begin splitting time evenly with both parents immediately. For example, your children are young in that they previously spent more time with their mother than with their father. The time coming off of a difficult divorce may not be the best to institute a 50/50 possession split immediately.
What may work better is working within the confines of a stairstep arrangement that allows fathers to work their way into an agreement where 5050 split and possession are more common. Here is how I would imagine that working. At the beginning of their post-divorce life, the father may have What is more akin to a standard possession order as far as when he can spend time with the children. This means dad would be with the kids every other weekend and once a week for dinner.
Once he and the children are accustomed to this schedule, a father could gain more time with his kids as they get a little older and can spend more time with him away from their mother. Along the way, the family can also determine if this arrangement works best for the kids rather than attempt to shoehorn in a 50/50 split in custody. The family should acknowledge their circumstances and do what is best for their children. It does not matter if the mother or father stands to benefit from this arrangement at the beginning. All that matters is that you and your family do what is in the best interests of your children.
Questions about the material contained in today's blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
If you have any questions about the material contained in today's blog post, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultations six days a week in person, over the phone, or via video. These consultations are an excellent opportunity to learn more about Texas family law and how the law impacts you and your family and your specific circumstances and needs.