When considering a child custody or divorce case, the issues contained in these legal matters can have potentially large impacts on the lives of the mothers and fathers involved in them. Once it has been established that you as the father is the legally recognized father of the child your rights and duties in relation to your child are on par with that of the child’s mother.
The issue that I have run into in my years of being a family law attorney in Texas is that this legal reality does not always match up with what Texas fathers feel is the case for them. From what I have experienced, fathers almost always feel like they are at a disadvantage when it comes to conservatorship and child custody matters. The perception commonly held is that mothers get the leg up when it comes to determining where a child will live primarily and that the father, as a result, will have to pay an arm and a leg in child support because of it.
I suppose the relevant question, then, would be to ask how true this is and how it will impact you and your child custody case or divorce. The attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC would like to devote some time to exploring the role of the father in a child custody case in Texas.
The relationship that many fathers have with their children is changing
Gone are the days where, across the board, fathers go to work for eight hours a day in order to provide for their families. Women have taken on a greater presence in the professional world and with it, the relationship between fathers, mothers and their children have changed as well.
Whether it is rearing children or providing an income for the family, both the mother and father can be expected to assist in either area. Your opinion on whether or not this is ultimately a good thing is not especially relevant here. What is relevant is how this truth has changed the way that courts view custody cases and the fathers that are parties to them.
Courts are starting to view men/fathers as being more capable and therefore more worthy of winning primary conservatorship of their children. Primary conservatorship is when a parent has the right to determine the primary residence of their child and to collect child support from the other parent.
If you were never married to your child’s mother does this make a difference?
In the event that you were never married to your child’s mother then you should know that your rights are equal to those men who were married at one time to their child’s mother. The key difference is that married men are presumed to be the legal father of a child born to the man’s wife during their marriage. If you are not married to your child’s mother you must acknowledge paternity in order to give the legal rights and duties to your child that a married man automatically gets by virtue of the fact that he is married to the mother of his child.
If you are married to a woman who is pregnant and you do not believe the child to be yours you can attempt to rebut the presumption by providing evidence to a court that you are not the child’s biological father.
Attempting to become the primary conservator of a child
If you are in the process of going through a divorce or child custody case with the mother of your child it is not a foregone conclusion that your child will end up living primarily with their mother. This is a mistake that otherwise qualified fathers make at the beginning of their case.
Many fathers will cede control of their family home to their wife or girlfriend in exchange for the assurance that the child will be safe from harm in the father’s absence. Not wanting to cause any more trouble, many good fathers will give in and accept a secondary role in parenting their child.
Do not be one of these fathers unless your choice is to do so. It is not a given that you will not win primary conservatorship in a court case against the child’s mother. With this in mind do not automatically give up on remaining in your family home. If you want to keep the children with you primarily a huge leg up is to stay in the house. Once you leave you are giving a tremendous advantage to the mother.
A court will consider your history of parenting your child, the skills you have acquired, your work schedule and other issues like these when determining which parent will end up being the primary conservator of your child. I will note that most child custody and divorce cases settle outside of court because fathers will normally not even consider whether or not they want to be the primary conservator of the child. This isn’t because fathers love their children less- it has more to do with fathers not wanting to “rock the boat”, in my opinion. If you believe that you provide a better chance for your child to succeed in life then you should not settle for being a part-time or weekend parent.
Joint Managing Conservatorship
Joint managing conservatorship is most commonly the structure of sharing rights and duties that are set up for parents in contested legal cases in Texas. The rights, duties, and responsibilities when it comes to a child are essentially split equally between you and the child’s mother. The superior rights that the primary conservator gets vs. a possessory conservator are two that we have already touched on: the right to determine the primary residence of your child as well as the right to receive child support.
Decision-making ability on important topics like religion, education, healthcare, and others are not commonly thought of as being at stake in a child custody case or divorce but are just as relevant as actual time with your child. Being able to have a say in where your child attends school, what church she worships in and what medical procedures can be performed on her is at stake in these cases as well.
The effort you show usually equals your levels of success in a child custody or divorce case
If you are not immediately successful in winning primary conservatorship of your child it is best to take what you have been awarded by a court and make the most of it. Take advantage of every period of possession that you are awarded. Be on time to pick your child up and be on time when releasing your child to their mother. You may not be in a position right now to win primary conservatorship of your child but use this time to build a stronger case so down the line you may be able to.
Taking a keen interest in your child’s academic performance as well as involvement in their extracurricular activities is not only good for you but good for your child. Do not shy away from caring for your child, either. If you struggle with caring for your child on long weekends you will likely not be able to win primary conservatorship.
Seeking more information on winning primary conservatorship of your child as a father? Come back to read part two of our series of blog posts on this subject
The attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC have more to share with you on this important subject and we hope that you will return to our website tomorrow to read more.
In the meantime, if you have questions for us we are happy to take the time to answer them. Did you know that we offer free of charge consultations with one of our licensed family law attorneys? It’s true. Our staff can schedule a consultation six days a week here in our office. We represent clients across southeast Texas and would be honored to do the same for you and your family. Talk to us about setting up a meeting and let us show you why our attorneys and staff are second to none in the field of Texas family law offices.
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Other Articles you may be interested in:
- Are Dads at a Disadvantage when trying to win 50/50 custody in a Texas Divorce?
- Paternity Law Essentials for Texas Families
- I am not the biological father but I want to be – Paternity by Estoppel?
- Can I sue my spouse's mistress in Texas?
- My Spouse Has Accused Me of Adultery in my Texas Divorce and I Haven't
- When is, Cheating Considered Adultery in a Texas Divorce?
- Sex, Lies, Rock-and-roll, and Adultery in a Texas Divorce
- Can I Sue My Spouse for Mental Abuse in My Texas Divorce?
- 6 things You Need to Know Before You File for Divorce in Texas
- Texas Divorce Morality Clause: Be Careful What You Ask For
- What does Insupportability or No-Fault in a Texas Divorce Mean?
- 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, TX child 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.