One of the difficult lessons of life is that you will find that the world and life, in general, do not always treat you fairly. Most of us learned this lesson or at least heard this advice early in life. We would run there our mom or dad and complain about some wrong that was committed against us. Our parent's response could have been something along the lines of life isn't fair. Furthermore, they may have added the additional piece of advice that the sooner we learned this lesson, the happier we would end up being. Whether or not this last part is true, I certainly believe the first part of the advice is accurate.
When things don't go our way, we oftentimes complain about the circumstances being against us. We have preconceived notions of fairness, usually in line with ourselves being put in a good position due to those preconceived notions of fairness. When we have to suffer consequences or don't receive an outcome that we think is fair or just, we tend to complain about it. That's human nature. Growing up and maturing is all about taking the lessons we learn and developing a state of mind to conduct ourselves that is conducive to goal setting and accomplishing goals.
All of that is to say that I do think life isn't fair. We can't always control our circumstances in the circumstances that we think we can control; we have less control over than we would like. However, I think 1 area of life that most of us would like to believe is completely fair is how we are viewed under the law. The law applies equally across persons is pretty much the basis of our entire judicial and legal system. Atop many courthouses in our country is a statue of Lady Justice. She's the woman holding the scales of justice in one hand, a sword in the other with a blindfold over her eyes.
The statue has many symbolic meanings. The first is the most commonly known 1: that justice is blind. While we all make judgments about people in the circumstances every day based on what we see, the idea is that the justice system does not discriminate based on appearances. Race, color, creed, national origin, in all the other specific identifying marks about us as individuals, are not supposed to factor into how we are viewed under the law. If equality under the law is something Noble to be sought after, then having a blind judicial system would certainly seem to be a great way of ensuring that reality.
We should all hope to be judged by the content of our character and by our merits rather than what we look like or what sex we are. After all: we have control over our character and the decisions we make in areas of our lives, such as our family life. We have no control over the color of our skin or what we look like. We also have no control over whether we are men or women. These characteristics in biological traits have been with us since our birth. We are who we are, whether we like it or not.
A major concern that men have regarding child custody cases is whether or not the law will judge them based on their merits rather than on their biological traits regarding parenting questions. There is a growing movement towards fathers' rights in the family law community as fathers believe that the law favors mothers both implicitly and explicitly. In today's blog post, I would like to walk through whether or not a woman has an advantage over a man when determining issues related to child custody in divorce or child custody matters. Is justice truly blind?
What does child custody mean?
Child custody cases are comprised of many issues. Custody has come to refer, generally speaking, to issues related to children in Texas family law cases. You can read many blog posts on this website regarding child custody matters. You may be interested in knowing that family law attorneys and clients frequently discuss child custody cases. You may also be interested to know that the word child custody does not appear in the Texas family code even one time. Rather, the word conservatorships incorporates in a legal sense much of what we think about when it comes to child custody.
Conservatorship over a person means that you have the legal right to make decisions in legal duty to provide for that person. If you are the conservator of a child, you have the right to make medical and educational decisions for that child and have a duty to provide that child with the basics of life as far as shelter, clothing, food, education, and health care. As a parent, you are responsible for providing your child these things and making decisions in their best interests until they turn 18 or graduates high school, whichever occurs later.
The rights and duties you share about your children are shared equally for parents who have never been to a family court before. Mothers do not have certain rights while fathers have others, and both parents have the same duties to provide and care for their children. Speaking of the Texas family code, there is no differentiation made between men and women in the codebook. In this way, one can argue that justice is blind because Texas family law makes no assumptions that men or women are better suited at parenting.
Once a family law case begins, issues regarding child custody come to the forefront. Almost immediately, you and your spouse will be tasked with determining how to divide parenting rights and duties, determining a Visitation schedule for the children, figuring out whether or not child support will be paid, and ironing out the logistics of sharing custody of her children. These are tremendous responsibilities and ones that you should not take lightly.
The two main types of family law cases, divorces and child custody cases, will have components of child custody involved in them. A child custody case well because that is the general name of the case. However, divorce also has child custody components. Half of your divorce will be centered around the division of the community, a state shared by you and your spouse, but the other half will be comprised of child custody matters such as those I just mentioned. It is your job as a parent to create goals and then develop a strategy to accomplish those goals in the most efficient way possible.
To complete your family lock case, there are two paths do so. The most frequently utilized and, in my opinion, best manner to proceed is through negotiation and a settlement of your case either in mediation or in informal settlement negotiation. I would encourage people to work on settling their case rather than proceeding to a trial because you and your co-parent are better suited to come up with solutions regarding child custody situations than a judge would be. Remember that the family court judge will be well-intentioned but will not know you or your children very well. Since nobody knows your family like you and your co-parent do, I believe that you two are particularly well suited to settle and negotiate through the issues of a case, even if it means having to meet in the middle on many issues.
Alternatively, if a settlement cannot be reached in a child custody case, you would need to proceed to a contested trial before a judge. The trial consists of both sides presenting evidence to a judge that includes your testimony. After the trial, once all the evidence has been submitted, a judge considers the evidence and makes decisions regarding child custody matters. Those decisions would be incorporated into a final order that you and your Co-parent would abide by in the future.
Why do some people believe that mothers have an advantage over fathers in Texas child custody matters?
Now that we have gone over the basics of a Texas child custody case, we can get into the specific subject matter of today's blog post. Some people believe family courts in the law in Texas favor mothers over fathers when it comes to deciding issues regarding child custody. For a moment, let's assume that the law favors mothers over fathers regarding child custody matters. This means that if your case were to go before a judge and the law was applied to your case, then theoretically, your Co-parent would have an advantage over you as a father.
If I were to find myself in a position where my wife and I were getting a divorce, and I knew that the law favored mothers over fathers regarding child custody matters, then I would do whatever it took to work out a fair and equitable settlement as I could with my spouse directly rather than proceeding to a trial. In some cases, a trial or contested hearing cannot be avoided, and I understand that. However, if you truly believe that the law favors women over men in custody situations, the matchup put, even more, have a focus on attempting to settle your case rather than proceeding to a contested hearing or trial.
As I stated earlier, the law itself does not explicitly favor mothers over fathers in custody circumstances. However, there was a time in Texas where courts both implicitly and explicitly favored mothers when it came to awarding custody rights and duties. That reputation has been hard to shake, and as a result, some people have concluded that the law in Texas still favors mothers over fathers when it comes to handing out custody rights and duties. Additionally, the actions of certain judges have invariably led to this opinion as well.
As far as judges are concerned, any family court judge that your case is assigned to will make decisions based on your child's best interests. The best interest standard is almost universally applied in our country towards issues relating to your kids. If you ask a judge to make determinations on child custody issues, they will do so not with your best interest or your Co-parent's best interest in mind but rather what is best for your children. In this way, the law not only doesn't favor mothers over fathers but doesn't favor either parent in comparison to the other period rather, the best interests of your children are considered as the sole determining factor.
However, what can end up happening is an important factor that comes into play that may favor women over men in custody circumstances. For the remainder of today's blog post, I would like to walk you through this factor. Mothers are often in an advantageous position when a family law case begins regarding child custody cases; therefore, they end up coming out on top in custody cases more often than not.
Mothers are oftentimes well positioned versus fathers when it comes to custody issues
in large part, what a family court judge would do is look to your family's specific circumstances and then make decisions that are in the best interest of your child based on those circumstances. More often than not, mothers rather than fathers tend to take the primary responsibility of raising children. There are many reasons why I think this is the case, and we do not have time to get into all of them. Suffice it to say, however, that mothers more typically act as the primary caregiver have a child than do fathers.
What does this mean for you as a father who is beginning a family law case? Well, the thing about the past is that you cannot change it. If you have been an active and involved father to your children just as much as your wife has, then you have every right and even an obligation to your children to fight for every right and duty possible under the Texas family code. This means that if you want to become the primary conservator of your children and have them live with you and determine their residents, that is something for you to set goals for in your case. Keep in mind that your spouse may also have this goal in mind, which means a trial is more likely. That's OK. You do not need to back down from your wife just because you both hold similar goals.
On the other hand, if you have always taken a backseat to your wife when it comes to raising the children and have been less of an involved father than you might have liked to have been, you start your family law case off behind the 8 balls if you want to compete with your wife as far as parenting responsibilities and rights are concerned. In my opinion, this is the primary reason why women tend to come out on top when it comes to child custody issues in a divorce or child custody case. The simple truth is that it is difficult as a father to assert your rights if you always have when you have willingly taken a backseat to your child's mother when it comes to parenting issues to that point.
If your children's mother has done a good job of parenting and the kids are reasonably happy, then a judge will not want to rock the applecart all that much by switching roles and putting you in a position where you have primary decision-making authority. This is why children more often than not live with mom after a divorce versus dad. This is why, more often than not, fathers like you end up paying child support rather than receiving child support. It's not because the law explicitly favors mothers over fathers, but it's because the fathers willingly or not take a backseat to mothers during their parenting lives.
Rather than complaining about a lack of fairness in the world of family law or getting frustrated at your spouse, their attorney, or even your attorney, the best way for you to assert your rights as a father in a child custody case is to never willingly take a back seat to your spouse or child's mother when it comes to parenting. If you are reading this blog post and are not yet involved in a family law case, I would take this opportunity to become as involved in your child's life as you can be. I understand that each person has specific limitations that may prevent them from being there for their children at all times, but I would tell you that as a father, you can benefit yourself and your child a great deal by being a part of their life. This will prevent you from feeling like you have to take a backseat during any future family law case.
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 consultation six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are a great way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law and the particular circumstances facing you and your family.