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The Rights of Fathers in Texas Divorce Cases

Fathers in Texas divorce cases often assume the worst. If you are a father going through a divorce or preparing to go through a divorce then listen to today’s blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan is for you. Our attorneys know from experience that fathers oftentimes assume the worst in a family law case. They will assume that they have no shot at winning primary custody. They’ll assume that their relationship with their children is going to be forever harmed as a result of the case. In short, dads like you oftentimes assume the worst.

What we are going to figure out today in our blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan is that this is not the case. Dads are not in an inherently bad position as far as getting what they want or need in a divorce. Fathers enter into a case on the same theoretical level as mothers do as far as rights and duties relating to their children are concerned. This should cause you to breathe a big sigh of relief. 

The bigger question, then, is why fathers go into divorce cases assuming the worst. Mothers don’t do this. Most mothers have no fear about their husbands winning primary custody for no reason or losing out on spousal maintenance. Mothers tend to have different concerns compared to fathers entering into a divorce. What do fathers have to worry about in a divorce? We are going to find that out today in our blog post. 

Divorcing as a dad- one man with a lot of concerns

As a father, you have a lot of things on your mind. As a dad to four kids, I know about the concerns that you encounter every day. There is the safety and well-being of your family first and foremost. When your kids head off to school it is normal to be concerned with their safety. We spend our time looking out for the best interests of our children when they are home. That does not stop just because they are at school or any other place for that matter. We want what is best for them as the bottom line.

We also need to provide financially for our families. This is an age-old responsibility for parents- especially dads. We want to do what is best for our children as far as providing for their daily needs is concerned. Looking at the lives of our kids we want more for them than we wanted for ourselves. This sometimes means working multiple jobs. Whatever it takes we do it for our kids. Just because we are in a divorce does not mean that this desire ends. 

Finally, we still want to do right by our wives- even in tough times. These are the women who we raised a child with. That instinct to do the right thing with our spouses is tested during a difficult situation like a divorce. When your wife files for divorce from you that puts you in a position where it feels like you have no options but to fight back. Is that even the right instinct?

What to do when you have a divorce filed against you?

You are minding your own business one day when you have a stranger approach you when you are in the parking lot at work. You’re headed out for the day when a lady holding a folder of papers walks up to you and hands you some documents. Stunned, you accept the documents and go about your day. You think nothing of what has just happened. It’s not every day that a strange person comes up to you and hands you papers. So, you take them and sit down in your car to review.

You see that those documents are a document called an Original Petition for Divorce as well as a notice of hearing for temporary orders. You have no idea what temporary orders are what you know what a divorce is. This is something that shocks you. You did not indicate to your spouse that she wanted a divorce. However, the proof is in the pudding. You can see that she is moving on from the relationship and wants you to hurry up and get with the program. 

Once you read the divorce petition you see that she is asking for a lot. Primary custody of the kids, an order from the court dividing up the property you own, and child support to boot. It seems like she is going to ask the court for everything- leaving you with nothing. This makes you concerned and a little angry. You have always been generous with your wife and kids. You buy yourself things hardly ever and spend all your money on your kids. Now you see this. 

Talk to an experienced attorney with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan

The attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan know what you are going through. We have helped thousands of people going through a difficult divorce and we can do the same for you. Contact us today to learn more about your case. We take pride in being able to serve our clients and look forward to being able to speak to you about your case. 

Meeting with one of the attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan is designed to be a stress-free situation. We know that you have a lot on your mind. Being pressured to sign a contract with a lawyer is not something that needs to be added to your list. As a result, we want to help you understand that our office is here when you need us. 

Come in and talk to one of our lawyers. You can ask questions and we will give you answers. Information is important to your case. This is especially true when you are on your heels a little bit. Your spouse has filed for divorce. She has a plan. Do you? Talk to one of our attorneys and start to develop a plan for yourself. When you feel like it’s time to get serious about your divorce contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. 

First issue- should you talk to your spouse about the divorce?

Talking to your wife about the divorce is not a bad idea. You know your circumstances better than anyone, however. If you think that there is a good reason why you should not reach out to your spouse then don’t do it. For instance, if she tends to jump off the handle, involve the kids or even get violent then it is not worth it. Find another place to stay temporarily or even reach out to family or friends. This is a serious situation and you do not want to jeopardize the safety or well-being of your family. 

However, in most situations, it is a good idea to try and speak to your spouse about the divorce. You may be surprised to find that you can talk to her calmly about the reasons why a divorce was filed. If there is a way to help save the marriage now would be the time to discuss that subject. Otherwise, going through the divorce means working with your spouse in negotiations. Most divorces are settled rather than litigated. This is something that surprises most dads. 

Finally, developing a co-parenting relationship with your spouse is crucial when you have minor children at home. A co-parenting relationship is not going to be the same as a marriage relationship. The relationship dynamic is going to change between you and your co-parent. For that reason, better to start laying the groundwork now so that you are more prepared for raising your children together. 

Stay on the same page as your co-parent and talk with your kids

Here is one of the most important decisions of the whole divorce. Deciding whether you should leave the marital home once the divorce is filed is a good question to ask yourself. For one, it is not going to be a fun dynamic around that house during the divorce. The house will not feel like a home. The kids will pick up on the changes and will start to ask questions. Here is one thing you and your spouse can and should do together- talk to your kids about the divorce.

Do not try and hide the divorce from your kids. Rather, talk to them with your spouse once the divorce is filed. This conversation looks different depending on the nature of your relationship with your spouse. If you and your spouse are not talking it is still a good idea to try and present a united front to the kids. This gives the impression that your family unit is not completely torn up as a result of the divorce. Children are visual creatures and when they see their parents together it gives them good feelings.

Talk to your children about the divorce. Make sure they understand that the divorce is not their fault. Children look at themselves first and assume that the divorce is their own making. It is obvious to you and your spouse that the divorce is unrelated to them. Consider the ages of your children as you have this conversation. You won’t talk to a five-year-old child the same way as you would a fifteen-year-old child. Then, once those conversations are had, you need to consider the next issue in your divorce. That is- whether you should leave the marital home. 

Should you leave the marital home in preparation for the divorce?

We have already talked about how the feel of your home is never going to be the same again. The divorce hanging over the situation makes everything different in a bad way. At this point, every instinct in your body may be telling you to leave. For your kid’s sake and your own sake. Better to just head out rather than risk something strange happening between you and your spouse. Take a look around and then decide what you should do, in other words. 

However, one of the things you ought to know for this stage of your case is that your actions right now affect many parts of the case. Leaving the house may seem like a reasonable decision but doing so can jeopardize your standing with the children in your case. Being named as the primary conservator of the case is one concern that many fathers have. The assumption is that mothers win primary conservatorship because they are women. 

In reality, mothers more frequently win primary conservatorship because they are more often the primary conservators of children before the divorce. Think about who prepares meals, takes the kids to the doctor, and does other parenting work like this. Usually, it is mom rather than dad. Leaving the family home only solidifies this reality. It is difficult to get back into the home once you leave. It can also be seen as leaving your children voluntarily when you leave the home. Consider all your options and your goals before leaving. If you are comfortable not going back into the home (other than to retrieve your belongings) and not being named as the primary conservator of the kids then you may want to leave. 

Child support- sometimes it’s about more than math

Another subject that fathers typically feel negatively about in a divorce is child support. Child support is paid by the noncustodial parent to the custodial parent. Meaning that if you are not named as the primary conservator of your children then you are likely to be ordered to pay child support. Fortunately, child support is not something that is randomly ordered. Rather, there is a specific way to calculate child support based on guidelines outlined in the Texas Family Code. Here is an overview of that process for you to consider. 

Child support is typically paid by calculating your net monthly income and then multiplying that against a specific percentage. Your net monthly income is essentially your take-home pay. All sources of income are considered In this calculation. Sometimes it can be complicated to determine what your true monthly income is based on the number of jobs that you have. Consider the circumstances if you work a salary job as well as multiple contract jobs for income. As you can tell, being able to calculate their true net monthly income is important. Working with an experienced family law attorney can help you in this regard.

Ultimately, you and your co-parent are free to decide how to calculate child support on your terms. You do not have to abide by the child support guidelines outlined in the Texas family code. The best interest of your child should be considered first and foremost. Think about their needs and whether any special care or attention needs to be paid to them. Children with disabilities or other limitations may require child support beyond their 18th birthday.

Is a father able to win primary custody?

Many well-intentioned fathers ask this question of our attorneys frequently. The assumption in a divorce case is that women and mothers always are named primary conservators. This is not the case. Fathers are fully able to win primary custody of their children. You will be happy to learn that there is nothing in the Texas family code that gives an advantage to women over men in this regard.

However, what does provide mothers an advantage in this situation is that they more frequently take on the role of primary conservator before the divorce. Again, think about which parent out of you and your spouse takes care of the children more. Bear in mind that just because you are the parent who works outside the home it is not the most frequent caregiver does not make you a bad parent. This is the parenting role that you have taken on alongside your spouse in raising your kids. Hopefully, it has worked out for the two of you to this point.

Understanding that there is no inherent advantage to being a mother in a divorce should give you reason for optimism. Many fathers assume the worst as they head into a divorce scenario. Many of these assumptions are unfounded and not based on reality. Sometimes we even hear stories from friends or coworkers that are not true, but we assume to are. Whatever your circumstances are, an attorney with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan is well-suited to help you. Thank you for choosing to spend part of your day with us today on our blog.

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, and via video. Interested in learning more about how your family is impacted by the material in this blog post? Contact us today.

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