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Texas Child Custody and Property Issues From a Father’s Perspective

Divorce, particularly with children involved, can pose significant challenges. If you’re a father and divorce papers catch you by surprise, you’re likely feeling overwhelmed and uncertain about what to do next. If thoughts about the end of your marriage and worries about your relationship with your children are consuming you, you’re in the right place. Over the next few days, The Law Office of Bryan Fagan will address child custody and property issues inherent in Texas divorces to guide you through this process.

Although many people believe that courts and judges favor women and mothers over men and fathers, men may feel overwhelmed if they enter a divorce unprepared and unaware of what to expect. If you have actively participated in your child’s life and aim to be designated as the primary caretaker, you have every right to pursue that goal.

Beyond issues that center around your children, you have to be aware that you may have to respond to allegations of violence in your home. You may have never lifted a hand against your wife or even engaged in angry dialogue, but many men going through divorces have to contend with unfounded allegations of violence. In addition, you may need to be aware of what your spouse can pursue as far as spousal maintenance is concerned. Alimony may be a topic that you hear about a lot in movies and television, but it is a real-life subject that many people have to consider in conjunction with their divorce case.

Increase your chances of having as much time with your children as possible

At the end of the day, all you can do in preparing for your divorce case is to learn as much factual material as you can and then apply that material against your individual circumstances. While individual results may vary, you do not have to wander into court on the day of your first hearing without any knowledge of how your case could turn out. You and your attorney are a team and your job is to provide your attorney with information that can help him or her guide you as best as possible in your case.

At the outset of today’s blog post, it’s important to note that quitting and getting upset at any point during your divorce is not in your best interest. No, I’m not saying that you will outright give up and move on with your life in disregard of your children. But we have all been in situations where we have become frustrated and felt like nothing we did was worth anything. That all our efforts resulted in nothing beneficial. I would caution against falling into this mindset. The bottom line is that you will be getting a divorce no matter what your attitude is like. What can happen is that if you become disengaged from your divorce you may end up losing time with your children when the case is all said and done.

Viewing child custody like a business transaction

Odd as it may sound, likening your divorce to a business deal isn’t a bad idea. Ultimately, you’re dividing significant aspects of your life. Just as you wouldn’t hesitate to divide personal property, you should be comfortable dividing time with your children. When discussing your child’s time and rights, “custody” is the common term used. It includes the time spent with your children. The parent with whom the child primarily resides decides custody, while visitation rights and child support are granted to the other parent.

In Texas, most of the time you and your spouse will share custody of your child through a joint managing conservatorship. This term refers to the sharing of time with your child as well as the rights and duties of parenting your child. In rare instances, “sole custody” may be granted, usually when you or your spouse have exhibited behavior like drug use or violence, leading the court to determine that continuous contact and decision-making by that spouse are not in the child’s best interests.

In terms of rights and duties associated with your child, you will be responsible for being able to contribute to the decision-making regarding medical treatment, educational choices, religion, and day-to-day management of the child’s finances. Many of the rights that you hold will be held in tandem with your ex-spouse. You all will need to be able to co-parent in order to exercise your rights most effectively in the best interests of your child.

Joint custody: Difficult, but ultimately in the best interests of your child

Texas courts favor joint custody, presuming it’s in the child’s best interests. Despite the challenges, divorced parents are expected to cooperate in parenting. This requires setting aside personal feelings and focusing on the child’s needs. While emotions may linger, the child benefits from both parents’ involvement. Coordination in raising the child is the responsibility of both parents.

Relatively speaking, the parent without the authority to determine the primary residence of the child under a joint managing conservatorship is granted more power than might be typical. Typically under a Standard Possession Order, you will be able to be in possession of your child nearly 45% of their time. If you are able to negotiate or have awarded to you an Expanded Standard Possession Order that percentage goes up even more.

Joint managing conservatorship also obliges the primary parent of your child (if you are not granted these rights) to collaborate with you on crucial matters, even when you are not with your child. This should provide you with some peace of mind that your ex-spouse is not doing whatever she wants with your child while you are not around to speak your opinion. If something doesn’t look right to you, or your ex-spouse is pushing for something that you disagree with, you have the ability to vote “no” and put a stop to their plan.

Joint custody does not have to mean a 50/50 split in the time with your child

Many fathers come into the Law Office of Bryan Fagan for a free-of-charge consultation and will tell me that their end goal in their divorce is to win 50/50 custody of their child. In their mind, this means that their child will not reside primarily with either parent and will instead split time evenly between their mom’s house and their house. I’ve also learned that many fathers believe that having 50/50 custody means they won’t have to pay any child support. More on that later.

Most commonly, joint managing conservatorships have split custody for your child on a fairly even basis. However, this doesn’t mean custody will be evenly split 50/50 between you and your ex-wife. If you aren’t designated as the primary-joint conservator of your child, a judge likely won’t award you exactly 50% of your child’s time. However, if you negotiate successfully with your wife in mediation it is possible to get close to that number.

What a court will not want to do is further disrupt the life of your child by implementing a complicated visitation schedule for you and your wife. No matter how close you decide to live to your child after finalizing your divorce, transporting them remains a significant aspect of being a divorced parent in southeast Texas. Therefore, if your case proceeds to trial, a judge is likely to establish a visitation plan that minimizes travel and associated headaches.

Work with your attorney to arrive at a plan for visitation that works for you

Early on in your case, discuss with your attorney your desired visitation schedule. If your work schedule allows for extended periods at home and away from your child, inform your attorney. This unique aspect of your case must be negotiated and considered. If both you and your wife have consistently cared for your child, you both have strong claims to become the primary caretaker. Additionally, demonstrate to the judge your capability to care for your child just as well as your wife can, and highlight any strong bond your child has with you.

The other thing that works in your favor if you want to be granted 50/50 custody rights with your child is a good relationship with your wife. The simple truth is that if you choose to split your child’s schedule with you and your wife, you all will need to work together more closely than you would under a Standard Possession Order. If you cannot problem solve and work with her on changes in the schedule that come up, then a 50/50 schedule may be difficult to achieve.

Last, you need to consider the age of your children. Older children and younger children may do better with a 50/50 split because they can either drive themselves places (older kids) or have no place to go on a daily basis (younger kids). Kids in that in-between age period may find that the increased transportation and/or time away from both parents may make 50/50 splits harder to manage.

Conclusion

Navigating a divorce, particularly when children are involved, can be an emotionally taxing experience, especially for fathers caught off guard by sudden divorce proceedings. It’s natural to feel overwhelmed and uncertain about the future, particularly regarding child custody and property issues. However, seeking guidance from legal professionals like The Law Office of Bryan Fagan can provide clarity and support during this challenging time. By addressing these matters head-on and understanding your rights and responsibilities, you can navigate the divorce process with greater confidence and ensure the best possible outcomes for yourself and your children.

Are you a dad with questions about your divorce? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan

The attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan take pride in representing men and women across southeast Texas. If you have any questions about the material that we discussed in today’s blog post please do not hesitate to contact our office today. We can schedule a free-of-charge consultation where your questions can be answered and issues addressed directly by one of our licensed family law attorneys.

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undefined If you want to know more about what you can do, CLICK the button below to get your FREE E-book: “Father’s Rights E-Book”

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