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. There are many factors that go into determining what is best for a family as far as division of time with the kids is concerned. What works well for your family in what is in the best interest of your children may not be true for the family across the street. Families have many different circumstances that come into play and can an impact the ability for families to have meaningful time together and build relationships that are solid 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 as compared to the other parent. You may be in 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 for you to be able to spend time with your children with that sort of employment to also 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 for period of time 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 in having worked 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 nice and fair from the get-go. However, while this idea sounds nice it is practically impossible to be able to structure visitation and possession in a way that is exactly even between parents. The reality is that parents need to be able to be flexible which means that it is unlikely that they will be able to share in possession time in exactly the same format in structure.
Especially from fathers, I hear a lot that what parents want is to be treated as equals with the other parent. However, it is usually fathers who 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 does seem to be a trend that mothers seemed to be able to win primary conservative ship of their children more often than father's too, for example. Keep in mind though that there is a lot more to this than simple division of time. Let's walk through why parenting time between parents differs in many circumstances.
Why is it that mothers tend to end up with more time with their kids then father's 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 almost never 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 simply favor mothers over father's 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?
I think more than any of these things being true the circumstances that families find themselves in at the beginning of family law cases tends 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 father's 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. On the whole, I could not say honestly that fathers love their children any less 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. The reason why this is due to 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 so on the children than a father's is. Mothers typically are the ones to spend time at home with the kids when they are not working, and this allows fathers too spend more time outside of the home making a living for the family. Whether this is a good thing or bad thing on a long-term basis is anyone's guess.
In regard to the world of Texas family law and place his father's in a position That is unenviable when it comes to trying to make arguments to become primary conservator of their children. Oftentimes fathers who are well meaning work long and difficult hours in order to provide for their families. Once a divorce or child custody case comes along their focus may shift for a period of time to wanting to become primary conservators of their children. Father's may see this as a way to have a solidified amount of time with the kids were they are not going to 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 as far as providing 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 than 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 it comes to attempting 2 at least earn equal time with their children after a family while case.
In divorces, if one parent is to leave the family home it is typically the father. In difficult circumstances involving divorce father's will see their leaving the home as a way to attempt 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 is going to be in the cards. In doing so, what a father thinks to be as a reasonable gesture towards the children and their spouse ends up being detrimental to their case in terms of trying to argue 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 best interest of the kids there is an argument to be made that leaving the mother alone with children during this time is not in their best interest, either. For this reason, I will generally recommend to fathers that, absent violence in the home, it is best for father is to 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 to me for parents to share time in possession of their children evenly. If you have read this blog post closely then 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 schedule, specifically the work schedule, then 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 parents relationship with inclusion it may not be in the kids best interest for the kids to immediately begin splitting time evenly with both parents. For example, your children are young in that heretofore spent more time with their mother than with their father the time period coming off of a difficult divorce may not be the best to immediately Institute a 50/50 possession split.
What may work better is to work within the confines of a stairstep arrangement that allows for father's too work their way into an arrangement 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's able to 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 have accustomed to this schedule a father could gain more time with his kids as they get a little bit older and are able to spend more time with him away from their mother. Along the way, the family can also determine if this is an arrangement that works best for the kids rather than attempt to shoehorn in a 50/50 split in custody family should acknowledge their individual circumstances and do what is best for their children. It does not matter if It is the mother or father who 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 a great opportunity for you to learn more about Texas family law and about how the law impacts you and your family and your specific circumstances and needs.