The process of ending a marriage through divorce is never easy for the parties involved. When there are minor children of the marriage, divorce is often even more emotionally devastating. One of the issues that must be resolved during the divorce process when children are involved is who will retain custody of the children. If the parents are not in agreement on this subject, a divorce can become downright contentious. Although there was once a presumption that a mother would be the primary custodial parent of the children in a divorce absent a compelling reason to the contrary, that presumption no longer exists. As a result, more and more fathers are fighting to be the primary caregiver of their children in a divorce. If you are one of those fathers, you may be wondering if a Fort Worth father’s rights lawyer can help you get custody of your children in the divorce. The short answer is ‘yes.”
In any discussion about divorce it helps to understand the legal lingo. In the State of Texas, child custody issues are divided into two categories – “conservatorship” and “possession and access.” Conservatorship of a child refers to the right to make important decisions relating to the child, such as where the child will go to school, what doctor will treat the child, and what religion the child will practice. Conservatorship and be joint or sole, with the presumption that it will be joint absent a good reason to grant sole conservatorship. When joint conservatorship is granted it means both parents have the right to input on major decisions whereas if a parent has sole conservatorship that parent alone may make important decisions relating to the child. Possession and access, on the other hand, refers to who will be the primary custodial parent and when each parent will spend parenting time with the children. Although the law favors both parents spending as much parenting time as possible with the children, truly equal possession and access can only be accomplished with a great deal of cooperation between the parents post-divorce. As a result, one parent typically has the children the majority of the time with the other parent exercising possession and access time with the kids.
Historically, both society and the law created presumptions in a divorce that granted a mother primary custody of the children and relegated a father to visitation once or twice a month and on holidays. Fortunately, both society and the law have moved away from those presumptions. Texas now uses a “best interest of the child” standard found in the Texas Family Code Section 153.002 that states: “The best interest of the child shall always be the primary consideration of the court in determining the issues of conservatorship and possession of and access to the child.”
Furthermore, the law in the State of Texas has formally done away with any presumptions in favor of a mother when deciding issues involving custody of children. Specifically, Texas Family Code Section 153.003 states, in pertinent part, as follows:
“The court shall consider the qualifications of the parties without regard to their marital status or to the sex of the party or the child in determining:
which party to appoint as sole managing conservator;
whether to appoint a party as joint managing conservator; and
the terms and conditions of conservatorship and possession of and access to the child.”
Although the law has specifically done away with any presumption in favor of a mother when the issues of conservatorship and possession and access are being litigated, old beliefs and customs can die hard. A father seeking sole conservatorship and/or primary possession of his children may still face obstacles and hidden prejudices. A father’s rights attorney is aware of these potential obstacles and has experience getting around them. When something as important as your children is at stake you want to make sure you have every advantage possible which is why you want a Fort Worth father’s rights attorney on your side.
If you have additional questions or concerns about child custody in a Texas divorce, contact an experienced Fort Worth, Texas divorce attorney at The Law Office of Jon R. Boyd to schedule your appointment today.