Regardless of Gender, You Have a Right to Seek Custody of Your Child
Being a father in a custody battle in Texas may feel as though the odds are automatically against you; after all, many people assume that mothers, not fathers, are favored in child custody courts in our state. Case results from the past seem to support this conclusion. But, those stats are misleading, because they take into account many fathers who are, frankly, unwilling to challenge the AG or the mothers of their kids and ask for more possession time and custody rights than the cookie cutter attempts made by the AG’s office to get a child support deal approved by the court. Little is really understood about the AG’s office when it comes to suits affecting the parent-child relationship. For example, their mission statement isn’t to fight for every individual family’s best interest and provide a unique and individual solution for each individual family. They don’t have the resources to achieve this goal. So, based upon the many thousands of new support cases filed each year, they simply push them through with standard language, standard assumptions, and standard results. Many Dads do not have the time or resources to fight. So, the statistics appear to show Mothers usually win. And, that’s certainly true in the cases where there is no effort by fathers to assert the important role in co-parenting the children. In fact, Fathers have as equal a right to seek custody of their children as do mothers. But it still takes resources and determination. At the office of Musemeche Law, P.C., our child custody attorney can help you to understand your rights as a father in our state, as well as how to improve the chances of your being awarded custody of your child. Here is what you need to know.
The Basics of Child Custody in Texas
The first thing to know about child custody in Texas is that the family code doesn’t use the catchall title of “custody” —we actually identify the legal rights of a parent using the term conservatorship — which relates to the parent with legal decision-making power over the child. Conservatorship may be shared (joint), or it may be awarded solely to one parent. The other parent may or may not have visitation rights. In most cases, the court will try to issue an order that maintains the child’s relationship with both parents. The phrase “possession and access” is used to refer to a person who has the right to be with the child during various periods of time. The confusion about what is and is not “custody” arises because the AG’s office uses the terms “custodial parent” and “non-custodial” parent to identify who they believe should receive or pay child support. Again, these are not terms we find in the Texas Family Code, but they are commonly used by parents across state. So, let’s look at the details.
Factors Considered to Determine a Child’ Best Interests
When parents are not in agreement about how custody (conservatorship and possession) of a child should be shared, they will turn to the court. If custody is litigated, the court must make a determination based on the child’s best interests. The factors for determining the best interests of the child are found in Texas Family Code. In section 153.003 of the code, where it explicitly states that there shall be “no discrimination based on sex or marital status” when determining the best interests of the child. Factors the court considers in determining the best interest of the child include:
- The physical, psychological, and emotional needs of the child;
- Each parent’s ability and willingness to foster a loving relationship between the child and the other parent;
- The geographic proximity of the parents’ homes to one another;
- The child’s preferences if they are 12 years of age or old; and
- Any other factor the court finds relevant.
How You Can Improve Your Chances of Being Granted Custody as a Father
If you are a father who is seeking custody of your child, you may be able to improve your chances of the court siding in your favor. Tips for helping the court seek that you are a capable and loving parent include:
- Find witnesses who can testify to your abilities as a parent, such as teachers, school counselors, family, and friends;
- Be prepared with financial information and other important documents;
- Form a parenting plan that is thorough and fair; and
- Gather as much evidence as you can that shows your participation in your child’s life and documents your child’s relationship with you.
Call Musemeche Law, P.C. Today
At the office of Musemeche Law, P.C., our lawyer understands that you may feel disadvantaged based on your gender as a father seeking custody. Legally, however, you have just as many rights as the child’s mother. For the legal support you need and deserve during your case, call our family law office directly. We will advocate for you.