Defending Fathers’ Rights in Texas

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If you are a father who is facing a divorce involving children or if you have a child custody concern outside of divorce, you’re likely focused on your rights as a parent. While there is a commonly held belief that mothers’ rights are better protected than fathers’, this notion isn’t based on the facts.

Texas courts are motivated by the best interests of the children involved, and – when there is no compelling reason to rule otherwise – they attempt to maximize the amount of parenting time each parent receives. If you have parenting time concerns, seeking the trusted legal guidance of a Round Rock fathers’ rights lawyer near you early in the process is one of the most important steps you can take.

​​Historically Speaking

In the past, mothers were more likely to stay home with their children, while fathers tended to be the primary breadwinners. As a result, mothers were more likely to take on the primary custodial role by default in the event of divorce. However, this stereotype no longer applies.

Today, Texas courts determine every child custody case in accordance with the circumstances involved. As such, parents generally don’t head into child custody cases with the supposition that the father is likely to receive less parenting time than the mother.

​​The Children’s Best Interests

Texas courts want what is best for the children who are involved in the child custody cases they handle. The prevailing wisdom when it comes to parenting time has evolved over the years, and spending a considerable amount of time with both parents is now considered preferable – barring a serious reason for ruling otherwise.

In other words, you have strong parental rights as a father, and having skilled legal representation in your corner from the outset will help you protect these rights. A Round Rock family lawyer will help you pursue favorable child custody terms.

​​A Note about Children under the Age of Three

Texas courts take children’s ages into consideration when deciding child custody terms, and in so doing, they place special emphasis on very young children. Some of the primary considerations in custody cases involving children who are under the age of three include all of the following factors:

  • The amount of contact the child has had with each parent to date

  • The parent who has provided the bulk of the child’s care to date

  • Each parent’s willingness, availability, and ability to provide the care the young child needs

  • The parents’ ability to share the rights, duties, and responsibilities of raising a young child

  • The parents’ ability to get along

  • The child’s physical, emotional, behavioral, developmental, and medical needs, including any special needs

  • The impact and influence that other people in each parent’s life will have on the child during periods of possession

  • The young child’s routine

  • The child’s need for healthy attachments

  • The distance that the parents live from one another

  • The role that siblings play in the case

  • Whether the child needs a transition schedule to adjust

  • Any other factors the court considers important to the case at hand

Phased-In Orders

If your child is under the age of three and you haven’t had consistent contact with him or her, the court will likely employ phased-in orders. Each phase in the order will list a specific number of visitations that must be completed before the next phase can be implemented. Once you move through each of the phases, the court-ordered parenting time schedule can begin.

Nursing Mothers

When a mother is still nursing a young child, the court must balance the child’s need to nurse with the need to bond with the father. While breastfeeding won’t negate a father’s right to parenting time, it may require more flexibility. For example, a baby who is breastfeeding generally requires shorter visits with the father to accommodate the feeding schedule.

As babies grow, feeding schedules become better established, and bottles of pumped milk are sometimes introduced, which helps open up parenting time possibilities.

Legal Custody

In addition to parenting time, child custody addresses legal custody. Big-picture parenting decisions like the following are determined by legal custody:

This decision-making is an important parental responsibility that is integral to bonding with your children.

You have several options in relation to legal custody. You and your ex may continue making every decision together. One of you may have the authority to overcome a deadlock if your authentic efforts to reach a mutually acceptable decision fail.

Another option is dividing these primary parenting decisions between you according to category. Finally, one of you may be awarded sole legal custody and make each of these decisions on your own.

Physical Custody

Physical custody determines your parenting time schedule. There are two primary options for physical custody. Either parent can become the primary custodial parent that will have the children the majority of the time, or you and your ex can divide your parenting time more evenly. If you choose to divide custody evenly, there are many 50/50 custody schedules available.

Texas courts turn to the following best interest factors when making physical custody decisions:

  • Each parent’s preference

  • The preference of each child who has the capacity to weigh in reasonably

  • How the children are handling the status quo, which refers to the children’s current situation in their school, home, and community

  • The children’s needs, including any special needs, and each parent’s ability to effectively address them

  • The children’s ages and overall mental and physical health

  • Each parent’s overall mental and physical health

  • Whether domestic violence, child abuse, or child neglect is a concern

  • Each parent’s commitment to supporting the other’s bond with the children

  • The degree to which each parent has been involved in raising the children to date

These factors do not inherently favor mothers over fathers, which helps fathers like you protect their parental rights. Child custody cases are complex, which makes reaching out to a practiced Round Rock fathers’ rights lawyer an excellent place to start.

Visitation Schedule Examples

Many fathers worry that their work schedules will stop them from receiving generous parenting time, but the truth is that there is a range of parenting time schedules that can be adapted to even the most challenging requirements.

The Standard Possession Order

Texas courts use the term possession order for parenting time, and the standard possession order includes the following basic schedule:

  • The noncustodial parent receives the first, third, and fifth weekend of each month, beginning on Friday and ending on Sunday.

  • The noncustodial parent is also afforded a weeknight visit during the school term.

  • The noncustodial parent receives an extended summer visitation.

  • Both parents share holidays.

When the parents live more than 100 miles apart, there are additional options in place to help address the travel component.

Parents who are able to negotiate schedules between themselves can hammer out whatever arrangement works for them, and the court is almost certain to accept the terms.

50/50 Parenting Time Schedules

There is a range of options for 50/50 parenting schedules. For older children whose parents live in the same area, switching back and forth on a weekly basis is often preferred. However, there are other common arrangements that often work well for parents:

  • The parents exchange the children on Thursdays and Sundays – with the option of alternating weekends.

  • The parents employ a 2-2-3 schedule, which puts the kids with Parent 1 for 2 days, with Parent 2 for 2 days, and back with Parent 1 for 3 days. The second week begins with Parent 2 in the starting position, which ensures that the parents receive alternating weekends.

  • There is also a 2-2-5-5 schedule that has the children spend 2 days with each parent followed by 5 days with each parent, which also distributes the weekends evenly between both parents.

Practiced lawyers for dads are skilled at helping their clients obtain advantageous parenting time schedules that maximize their time with the kids and work for them.

FAQ about Fathers’ Rights

If you’re a father who is facing a child custody concern, you have pressing questions, and the answers to those asked most frequently by fathers in your position can help.

As the Father, Should I Expect Less Parenting Time?

There is no reason that you should expect to receive less parenting time simply because you are the father. Every child custody case in the State of Texas is decided according to the circumstances involved, and the children’s best interests are always the guide. Fathers often fill the primary custodial role or obtain generous child custody schedules.

To protect your rights and to help ensure a beneficial case outcome, consult with a focused Round Rock fathers’ rights lawyer today.

Can I Become the Primary Custodial Parent?

The primary custodial parent has the children for the majority of overnights, and either the mother or the father can fill this role.

Because mothers are more likely to stay home with the children or dedicate more of their time to raising the children, they are more likely to become the primary custodial parent upon divorce. However, if you were as involved or more involved in parenting than your spouse, you may be in a good position to fill the role of primary custodial parent.

What Is the Best Way to Protect My Rights as a Father?

The most important thing you can do to protect your rights as a father is to reach out to a seasoned Round Rock father’s rights attorney early on in the legal process and to work closely with him or her throughout. Your attorney has the legal skill and insight to help guide your case toward an optimal outcome that helps secure your ongoing relationship and bond with your children.

Another important step you can take is to keep the lines of communication between you and your divorcing spouse open as much as possible. Ultimately, you and your ex both want what’s best for your children, and if you allow this shared goal to guide your negotiations, you may be surprised by the results.

Is a 50/50 Parenting Time Schedule Possible?

Many parents share parenting time equally, and there is a range of scheduling options to fit a range of needs. Focusing on where your children’s needs intersect with your and your ex’s scheduling requirements can help you create a 50/50 parenting time schedule that works well for your family moving forward.

With More Parenting Time, Will My Child Support Obligation Decrease?

Child support is based on many factors, but two of the most important include the number of overnights each parent has with the children and each parent’s income. Parenting time schedules remain in effect until they are modified by the court, but if your children consistently spend more and more time with you, it could affect your child support obligation.

An Experienced Round Rock Fathers’ Rights Attorney Is Standing by to Help

As a father, you may have serious concerns about your parental rights in the face of divorce. Brett Pritchard at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard is an accomplished Round Rock fathers’ rights lawyer with a wealth of experience fiercely advocating for the parental rights of clients like you – in pursuit of generous parenting time schedules that honor these rights.

Your close, ongoing relationship with your children is paramount, so please don’t delay contacting us online or calling us at (254) 781-4222 to schedule your FREE consultation and learn more about what we can do to help you today.

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