Child custody disputes, whether during a divorce or between two unmarried parents, are incredibly emotionally volatile and turbulent times. As the child’s father, you may have heard disconcerting things about gender bias, but both the mother and father have the same rights. However, things are not always straightforward, and you may have to take a paternity test to prove your right to make decisions about your child or provide them moral and religious training.
It pays to know your legal rights under Texas Family Code, which is why we have included the key information you need to know about father’s rights below. As well as knowing your father’s rights in Texas, it is also vital to have the support of a knowledgeable lawyer who is highly experienced with Texas family law in order to stand the best chance of receiving the result you desire.
Here at The Love DuCote Law Firm LLC, our team of family lawyers has a wealth of skill, experience, and knowledge relating to Texas custody battles. We will fight tirelessly by your side and provide the reassurance and compassion you need to get through the legal proceedings.
Gender Bias Is Not Permitted When Considering Child Custody Rights
In the past, the mother was more likely to receive custody of the child, due to the tender years doctrine. However, this outdated practice is no longer acceptable in the eyes of the law.
The Texas Family Code states that, in a custody battle, decisions about child custody may not be made solely based on the gender of the parents. Instead, the judge will make decisions based on what is in the best interest of the child’s life.
What Factors Decide What Is In The Best Interest Of The Child?
As we have just mentioned, the judge in your custody case will look at what is in the best interest of the child, not the gender of either parent.
Factors that will be considered by the judge include:
- The health and age of both the child and their parents.
- If either the child or the parents have any special needs.
- Each parent’s home environment.
- The personal history of the parents, such as whether they have a criminal record filed or a history of abuse, violence, substance abuse, or anything that could put the child in emotional or physical danger.
- The emotional and physical needs of the child.
- Whether each parent can provide for the child adequately.
- The amount of time each of the parents has available to spend with their child.
- The needs involved in the child’s education, plus considerations for any moral and religious training involved.
This is not an exhaustive list. The judge may consider any aspect of your father-child relationship that they believe to be relevant. The court may also consider the opinion of the child, if they are old enough and able to state the reason for their preferences in an articulate way.
It is also important to note that there is no concrete framework for how these criteria are ranked and weighted against one another. One parent may have a substantially higher income and more a desirable location for the child, but if they are unable to spend quality time with that child and the child has continuously resided somewhere else, these factors may not be weighted as highly.
Overall, the judge will decide what is in the best interest of the child.
What Is The Legal Definition Of A Child’s Father In Texas Family Law?
Every family is different, so if you are an unmarried father or an adoptive father, you may be worried that your father’s rights will be declared invalid.
Thankfully, as the child’s father, you can be afforded the same rights as the mother as long as you are:
- The presumed father.
- A legally-determined father.
- A father who has been adjudicated by the courts and whose name has been added to the birth certificate.
- A father who has acknowledged paternity.
- An adoptive father.
Things are easiest when a father was married to the mother. However, if this was not the case, it may be first necessary to establish paternity.
How Does Establishing Paternity Work In Texas?
It is possible that unmarried fathers or a presumed father may have to establish paternity in order to obtain the same parental rights as the child’s mother.
For unwed parents or those with an invalid marriage who are still willing to cooperate, the father’s rights may be voluntarily asserted. This process is simple and will only require the child’s father and the child’s mother to sign a legal document that is known as an Acknowledgement of Paternity.
However, the child’s mother has no legal obligation to sign this document, which can lead to a more difficult situation. Thankfully, this can be solved with a paternity test, through court order if necessary, to establish equal father’s rights.
Establishing paternity in this way works by swabbing for DNA in the cheek of both the father and the child. This will usually take place in a court, local clinic, or a child support office. These tests have 99% accuracy.
Successfully establishing paternity in this way not only has positive implications for your parental rights, visitation rights, and your ability to make joint decisions about your children – it also has practical benefits, such as allowing your children to benefit from your health insurance.
Both The Mother And The Father Must Avoid Parental Alienation
Parental alienation is when one parent tries to undermine or negatively influence a child’s relationship with the other parent. This can happen intentionally or unintentionally, but the result is often the same – the child becomes biased against the other parent, causing strain on the parent-child relationship and potentially lasting emotional and social issues for the child.
The courts must act in the best interest of the child, so if this is occurring, it may lead the court to award primary custody to the non-alienating parent. It is important to be aware of the signs of parental alienation and to inform your attorney if you believe it is happening.
An attorney may be able to use testimony from mental health experts, seek custody modification, enforce custody agreements, or ask for therapeutic intervention to help combat parental alienation.
The Types Of Custody Under Texas Law
In Texas, custody is known as conservatorship in legal terms. It can take several different forms, depending on the court order given at the end of the legal action.
If one parent is given sole managing conservatorship of the child, this is the same as having sole custody. This means that only the custodial parent will be allowed to make decisions about the life of the child.
However, judges in Texas are supposed to always try to involve both the mother and the father in the lives of their children. This means that even in a sole custody situation, the other parent is likely to be granted visitation access. This can take many forms, depending on the specific parents in question, but is likely to be managed through a visitation schedule. Again, visitation schedules may be court-ordered or determined between the parents themselves, depending on the case specifics and the level of cooperation existing between the parents.
On the other hand is a joint managing conservatorship, also known as joint custody. In this situation, both parents are entitled to spend time with the child and to make decisions about the child’s life. Once again, how this work will vary on a case-by-case basis, with the judge being more likely to make concrete rulings if the parents are unable to cooperate on their own.
Hire An Experienced Family Lawyer To Support You Today
Fathers in Texas have the same legal rights to custody as mothers do. However, it is not always easy to navigate the legal system and ensure that your rights are protected. This is why it is important to work with a knowledgeable lawyer who is familiar with Texas family law.
If you are involved in a custody battle in Texas, it is important to understand your legal rights under the Texas Family Code. This code outlines the rights and responsibilities of parents when it comes to the care and custody of their children. It also sets out the criteria that courts use to determine custody arrangements.
At The Love DuCote Law Firm LLC, our team of experienced family lawyers can provide the support and guidance you need during a custody dispute. We understand how emotionally challenging these situations can be, and we will fight tirelessly to help you achieve the best possible outcome.