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A father's rights in the context of a child custody or divorce case in Texas

My motivation to write this blog post and the one that preceded it (posted yesterday) was based on my experience working with dozens and dozens of good, well-intentioned fathers who feel like their rights take a backseat to those of their child’s mother.

While it could be argued that mothers have a leg up when it comes to fighting for and winning primary conservatorship of their children, it can also be argued that it has less to do with their being a mother or woman and more to do with their choices and circumstances.

For a father to win primary conservatorship of his child, he must be able to establish to a court that he has played a tremendously important role in his child’s life on a daily basis. Telling a judge that you see your child when you can because you’re so busy with work is not an excuse that will win the day for you. Today, let’s get into some real-world tips for you as a father to consider prior to and during your child custody case or divorce.

Emphasizing those important points of being a “dad”

Every man out there reading this blog post has their own ideas of what it means to be a dad- yourself included. I’m not trying to disregard your thoughts or opinions on the matter and I am certainly not trying to push my own beliefs on you.

However, I am going to share with you four points that I believe your judge is likely to consider in deciding who to name as the primary conservator of your child:

1. Take Advantage of Every Opportunity you are Given

Do you take advantage of every opportunity you are given to be with your child? If you are about to go through a divorce you should ask yourself if work or other commitments of any sort have kept you from spending as much time as you can with your child. If you cannot say that you have played a big a part of your child’s life as you would have liked this will be something used against you in court. Consider if whether or not you should push your case all the way to a contested trial with a judge over the issue of conservatorship. A divorce decree is not set in stone.

You can file modifications based on a change in circumstances. If you use the interim years to build a level of trust with your child that allows you to play the role that you have always wanted to then a future date may make more sense for you to proceed on an all-out effort to win primary conservatorship.

2. Take Care of Your Child on a Daily Basis

Going along with our first bullet point, do you take care of your child on daily basis. One of the tough parts of being a provider for a household is that you may not always be there for important days in your child’s life. What about all the days where “nothing important happens”.

Those days where your child comes home from school does their homework, eats dinner and then hangs around until bedtime. Nothing exciting, just another day for your family. Well, those days are the ones that are important to a judge.

If you can show that you have taken an active and daily role in the rearing of your child you have a strong argument to make for being named the primary conservator. A judge will want to see that if you are named to this role that you will be well equipped to run with the responsibility from day one. Arguing that given enough time you can transition into this role is not a smart play.

3. Know the Names of Your Child's Friends and Their Parents

Do you know the names of the girls on your daughter’s soccer team? What about their parents? Have you ever helped out with a Girl Scout trip or your son’s Pinewood Derby?

Extra-curriculars allow your children to explore their interests and allow you to show your interest in your children. Consider your level of involvement in these activities and what role you played in encouraging your child’s activities outside of home and school.

4. Get Comfortable Being The Parent for Extended Periodsof Time

One of the aspects of parenting that hit me like a ton of bricks as a young father was figuring out how to take care of my daughter on my own when my wife had to work, or just when my wife wanted to take a half day to go to get a massage or have lunch with a friend.

Gradually I became more comfortable with the idea and I was able to care for her from a young age for an extended period of time.

Those skills came in handy as my wife and I had another little girl only a year or so after our first daughter was born. I stepped in, sucked it up and as a dad learned how to take care of my kids for long stretches.

I came into fatherhood believing that women were just inherently better at taking care of their kids. As I sit here now I believe more so that dads and moms have different strengths and weaknesses as parents, but overall can care for their children on about the same level.

My point in relaying these life events is to tell you that you need to have evidence of your caring for your children for long stretches of time. This means not only caring for them when you are home but also coming up with transportation and care solutions while you are working. Do you have a daycare center close to your home? Do you have a family to support you and the kids? Are your kids close with your family?

What is actually in the best interests of your child?

The bottom line is that the judge will look to what is in your child’s best interests before making a decision on which parent will have the ability to determine the primary residence of your child. The factors that I mentioned above will all be considered along with other factors like who offers a more stable home environment, what the particular needs of your child are and whether or not either parent has displayed a history of violent or abusive behavior.

The best interests standard is purposefully subjective and gives the judge a great deal of authority to make a decision using whatever factors he or she believes is most important. The judge will put their own amount of weight to the evidence he or she chooses to.

Whatever decision the judge comes to, you or the child’s mother will be assessed a visitation schedule if you are not named the primary conservator of your child. In Texas, a Standard Possession Order effectively gives you something close to “50/50” time of possession especially if you are awarded an expanded Standard Possession Order.

Keep this in mind as you negotiate with the mother in a case. It is not the end of the discussion if you agree or settle on this arrangement. As we discussed earlier you can always come back at a later time if you believe the circumstances have changed enough to merit a modification of your prior court order.

Prepare your case

Keep a log or journal of your thoughts and experiences on this subject to discuss with an attorney if you hire one to proceed on a modification, divorce or child custody case. Any tangible evidence that can be used to support your arguments can be helpful as well. The more organized you are, the more successful you are likely to be in your case.

Questions on child custody and divorce cases from a father’s perspective? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC

If you are interested in pursuing a divorce, child custody or modification case please consider contacting the attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC. We offer free of charge consultations with licensed family law attorneys six days a week. From Beaumont to Katy we represent fathers like you who are interested in maximizing their time with their children. It would be an honor to speak to you about your particular situation and we hope to hear from you.

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Other Articles you may be interested in:

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  2. Are Dads at a Disadvantage when trying to win 50/50 custody in a Texas Divorce?
  3. Paternity Law Essentials for Texas Families
  4. I am not the biological father but I want to be – Paternity by Estoppel?
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  12. What does Insupportability or No-Fault in a Texas Divorce Mean?
  13. Explaining the Contested Divorce Process in Texas

Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC | Houston, Texas Child Custody Lawyers

The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding child custody as a father, it's important to speak with one of our Houston, TXchild custody right away to protect your rights.

Our child custody lawyers in Houston TX are skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC handles child custody cases in Houston, Texas, Cypress, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, the FM 1960 area, or surrounding areas, including Harris County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Galveston County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County and Waller County.

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