Tips for Fathers who Want Child Custody
- Texas family law judges make decisions about child custody and visitation (often called possession and access in Texas) according to a standard known as the “child’s best interests.” On a basic level, this means that a divorce court judge is not going to agree to change a custody agreement solely because the existing custody or visitation agreement is inconvenient for one of the parents.
- Family courts presume that a child is best served by having a relationship with both parents. This means that the divorce court judge will be inclined to order joint custody or generous visitation time with the other parent in cases where sole custody is awarded. The parent who believes the other parent should not share custody or should have limited visitation or parenting time must present factual evidence to support the claim that the child, in this particular case, is not best served by equal access to both parents.
- The father’s past and current relationship with the child is very important. A Texas family law judge is highly unlikely to grant equal child custody to a father who does not currently have an active relationship with the child. Similarly, a father who has not regularly exercised his visitation rights in the past is unlikely to succeed with a request to increase visitation or shared custody.
- Family law judges are prohibited from showing a bias against the father in custody determinations. However, family law judges are reluctant to interfere with a child’s existing relationship with his or her mother if that relationship is stable and does not put the child in actual physical, emotional, or developmental danger.
- Custody battles are expensive and exhausting. Whenever possible, work out your custody and visitation agreements with your child’s mother without getting embroiled in a full-fledged custody dispute. If you can agree by having conversations directly with one another – great. If you can communicate in writing to come up with an agreement – great. If you can work with a neutral third party like a family law mediator – great. All of these options are better, in almost all cases, than asking a judge to decide who should have custody and what the visitation plan should look like.
The Texas Young Lawyers Association publishes a pamphlet called “Kids in the Crossfire: Helping Parents Understand the Impact of Divorce.” It offers suggestions for how separated or divorced parents can work together for the benefit of the children they share.
Contact Kevin Buchanan for Answers to Questions About Fathers’ Custody Rights
Attorney Kevin Buchanan is a Dallas attorney offering family law clients skillful and experienced representation. He places a strong emphasis on fairness, and on treating all clients with dignity and respect. If you have questions about fathers’ child custody rights, he would be pleased to review your circumstances and offer his opinion. To schedule a private consultation, fill out the online intake form or call (214) 378-9500.