Do Courts Favor the Mother Over the Father in Texas?
The myth that Texas courts favor mothers often haunts fathers and prevents fathers from taking steps to protect their rights. The truth is that family law courts are required to make decisions free from gender bias. There are a lot of considerations when determining the outcome of family law matters, but the top consideration is always the best interests of children.
Regardless of whether you are a mother or father, the best way to maintain your child’s best interests and protect your parental rights is to secure representation from an experienced family law attorney.
At Skillern Firm, we are dedicated to helping families in Houston, Texas and will fight tirelessly to ensure the best possible outcome for our clients. We believe in the importance of the parent-child relationship, and utilizing a firm grasp of Texas law, a wealth of resources, and a compassionate approach, we will guide you from start to finish.
Our attorneys are skilled mediators but are always prepared to take a case to court if necessary. As fierce litigators, we can handle even the most complex family law cases.
Call today at 936-213-8479.
Courts Do Not Favor The Mother Over The Father
In the past, it was common practice for the court to favor the mother in child custody cases, especially in cases involving young children. During this time, it was common for women to be at home with children while fathers worked, so keeping the child with the mother was often the most straightforward decision.
However, nowadays, family law courts approach family law matters with a balanced perspective. It is common for both parents to work full-time and share responsibilities for their children, so neither parent is given preferential treatment.
In accordance with Texas law, decisions must be made based on the child’s best interests. In most cases, it is considered to be in the child’s best interests for both parents to remain a large part of their lives. For this reason, most custody battles result in some form of joint custody arrangement. The only reason why one parent would be granted sole custody is if the other poses a risk to their child’s wellbeing.
What Factors Determine the ‘Best Interest of the Child’?
The courts do not favor mothers. Instead, decisions are made based on the best interests of the child. It is common for parents to disagree about what outcome would best meet their child’s needs. Each case is unique. However, a Judge may consider the following factors:
- The child’s medical needs are both mental and physical
- Whether each parent encourages a connection with the other, courts will not look favorably on a parent who attempts to alienate the other
- If the child is over 12, then the court could consider their preference, but ultimately the decision must still be made based on their best interests
- The financial stability of each spouse, including whether they have a secure job and are able to provide basic necessities such as shelter and food
- The quality of life that each parent is able to provide
- The lifestyle habits of each parent and whether either is struggling with an addiction.
- Any history of domestic abuse in the home
- The child’s access to wider family members, friends, and community
- Whether living with one parent will disrupt a child’s routine, such as moving to a new location or changing schools
- Each parent’s ability to meet their child’s physical and emotional needs
- Each parent’s mental and physical health
- The wishes of each parent
How is Child Custody Decided in Texas?
When parents separate, it is common for them to disagree about what form custody should take. However, family law courts expect parents to, at least, try to come to agreements amicably, using mediation. The Judge will then approve their agreement if it is in line with Texas state law.
If parents cannot agree, then the case will go to trial, and the Judge will make a decision on their behalf.
At Skillern Firm, we will help facilitate mediation in your case where possible. This can help you to create a personalized arrangement while saving time and money on court costs. However, if a decision cannot be reached, then we will be prepared to advocate on your behalf in front of a Judge.
Different Types of Child Custody Arrangements in Texas
Child custody can take many forms in Texas. However, simply put, there are two broad types of conservatorship, they are joint custody and sole custody.
Joint custody is when parents share custody. There are many different forms that this can take; custody could be equally shared, meaning the child spends their time equally with both parents, and both parents have a right to make important decisions on the child’s behalf, such as those involving education and medical care.
Although this may seem like the fairest option, in practice it is often not practical. One parent may work longer hours than the other, or one parent may live a lot closer to the child’s school. Therefore, having one primary residence could help create more stability for the child.
It is common for one parent to have primary custody while the other is granted visitation rights. A typical visitation schedule could be for the child to spend every other weekend and one weekday evening each week with the noncustodial parent. Both parents could still retain the right to make important decisions on their child’s behalf, or this right could be granted to one parent.
In most cases, parents will be expected to arrive at some type of joint custody arrangement. However, there are situations where a sole custody arrangement is justified, meaning the other parent loses their rights toward their child.
Sole custody may be granted if the other parent poses a risk to their child’s wellbeing. For example, perhaps there is a history of child abuse, or one parent is abusing drugs and alcohol.
If you believe you should be granted sole custody, then you will need to present strong evidence to the Judge. Courts do not take away parental rights easily, and you should speak to a family law attorney who can help you gather the necessary evidence.
Equally, if your spouse is unjustifiably fighting for a sole custody arrangement, then you should ensure that you have legal representation so that your side of the story is heard.
If the court does agree to a sole custody arrangement, then one parent will have sole rights to make important decisions on their child’s behalf. In some situations, the other parent could be granted supervised visitation, and the custodial parent will need to facilitate that.
Do Courts Favor the Mother Over the Father in Texas? FAQ
What Should I do if my ex-spouse refuses visitation?
If your ex-spouse is refusing to allow visitation with your children or is alienating them against you, then you should speak to a family law attorney. If they are in breach of a court order, then we can help you take legal action against them. If you do not have an official child custody order in place, then we can help you secure one and protect your rights to your children.
How long will it take to finalize a child custody arrangement in Texas?
Each case is unique, and so it is difficult to predict how long your case will take. If parents can agree on a parenting plan, then a child custody case could be resolved in a few months. However, if the case moves to trial, it could take a year or more to finalize.
Can I change a child custody order?
Once a child custody order is in place, it is legally binding. However, if your current arrangement is no longer working for you or your children, you can file for a Modification. If both parents agree to the Modification, and any changes are still in the best interests of the children, then it should be relatively simple. However, if the Modification is contested, then it is often more difficult to secure. Either way, an attorney can help you secure the changes you need.
What should I do if I am concerned about my child’s well-being with the other parent?
If you are concerned about your child’s well-being, then you should speak to a family law attorney as quickly as possible. At Skillern Firm, we can help you file a Protective Order to keep your spouse away from you and your children temporarily if there are issues that rise to such a level. This will give you and your attorney time to evidence your claims to a Judge so that final decisions can be made regarding custody.
Who has custody while we wait for a decision to be made?
Before a final decision is reached regarding child custody, it is common for parents to require guidance on how much time each party spends with their child. Either parent may request a hearing for Temporary Orders which will usually be in place until the child custody order is finalized. Although Temporary Orders do not last after the final decision, it is important to take them seriously, as they could impact their Judge’s final decisions.
Contact Skillern Firm Today
The courts will not favor mothers or fathers in family law cases. Instead, they are required to make decisions based on the child’s best interests. An attorney can help you establish what that means and will help you reach decisions that meet the needs of your family.
At Skillern Firm, we will help you guide you during the mediation process when possible, but we will always be prepared to advocate on your behalf in front of a Judge. We are committed to our clients and their families and will guide you throughout the process to ensure that your rights are protected.
Give Skillern Firm a call today at 936-213-8479 to speak to an experienced family lawyer about your family law case.