In history, it was rare that a father obtained primary custody over their child in a divorce or child custody case. How many fathers did you know that had primary guardianship over their child's mother. Although it may be rare, in these modern times, this is now just another stereotype. The truth is that any father can obtain primary custody of their child.
What Exactly is "Custody?"
To begin, you should be familiar with what precisely primary custody is. In Texas, the term custody is comprehensive and vague. Custody is used to cover a parent's rights and duties to their child and that parent's possession, access, and visitation of their children. Conservatorship is the term commonly used to describe the rights and responsibilities regarding their child in a Texas family law case. Rather than having primary "custody," you will be deemed the primary "conservator." This parent has the right to establish the child's primary residence and has the right and duty to make life decisions regarding the child—the child with lives with the primary conservator.
Over the years, society and the legal system have expanded to be more inclusive of what is known as father's rights. Just because you are a mother does not automatically prove you will be the more capable parent of raising a child. This has eased the stress most fathers face going into a divorce or child custody case because both sides will equally get to display why they should be ordered as a child's primary conservator.
Factors Judge's Look at When Deciding Custody
Knowing that most fathers will begin on an equal footing with their child's mother, it is essential to understand what precisely a Judge is looking at when deciding who should become the primary conservator. Some examples include the stability of the parent's home environment, the parent's income, and the plan each parent plans to implemented to care for their child if they are granted primary conservatorship.
How Can I Increase My Chances?
With these factors, most fathers will wonder what they can do to better those chances at winning primary custody in a divorce or child custody case. A father can do a few things that will give them some leverage from the jump of the case.
To begin with, you must be a good father to your child. Although being a "good father" is vague, doing these will put you in a good light. For starters, you must be in your child's life and be spending quality time with them. Too often, fathers get the wrap of not being as involved in their child's life as their mother is, even sometimes absent altogether.
Being involved goes hand in hand with being informed about the people in your child's life. Knowing things like your child's school name, teachers, doctors, best friends, and even best friend's parents' names will make you stand out to a judge. Going with your child to any doctor's or dentist's appointment is even better. The more you know, the better your chances will be to prove that you deserve primary conservatorship.
It is best to place yourself in your child's shoes as if that were you growing up all over again. Think back to what you experienced in your relationship with your father, whether good or bad. If it were terrible, in your opinion, think about what could have been done to make it better. All these involved factors will prove your case, so it is crucial to start by being a good father to your child.
Another way you can prove yourself as a better father is by putting up a fight for your children. Most fathers will begin a family law case believing they have no chance at their children, making them see no point in presenting their case to a judge. Most fathers altogether will ignore that they have been legally summoned in a family law case and fail to respond to the lawsuit overall. This is known as a default and will result in them forfeiting whatever rights and arguments they have in front of a Judge.
Next, most fathers will not want to deal with the stress of going through a legal proceeding to rush to settle outside of the courts. To meet the demands of their child's mother, a father may likely agree to any of those requests, no matter how absurd. Once again, you are waiving your right to fight in court for what you want for your children. By being active in your child's life and the courts, you can say you fought for them.
Should you indeed fight for primary conservatorship but end up coming up too short, it is good to know that every order implemented by a Judge can always be modified if you are not happy with the result. The catch is that you must prove that exceptional circumstances must be confirmed because most courts understand that a child needs a stable environment to grow up in. These circumstances must be material and substantial.
The child can also request a modification, but they must be 12 or older and file a written request to the court. Also, in Texas, any custody modifications filed within a year of the child custody order will likely be denied. Suppose it has been over a year and it can be proven that either the child's present environment is endangering their health or emotional development, or the other parent is in agreement with a modification because it is in the best interest of the child, or the child has been relinquished from the primary conservator for at least six months. In that case, a modification will likely be granted. If any of the circumstances above are present, a father can modify the court order that granted the primary mother conservatorship.
The shift in fathers' rights has made it easier for a fit fathers to prove that they deserve primary conservatorship. Remember to get where you want to be, you should begin by being a good father overall to your child, and if that does not work, you can move to modify the custody agreement. With all these tips in mind, you may have the upper hand in proving you deserve primary conservatorship.
If you have questions about what you can do to be a better father or want some information on the custody process, please call our office to set up a FREE 30-minute consultation with one of our expert attorneys. These attorneys will help give you advice on what you can do to increase your chances.