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Houston Father’s Rights and Custody Agreements

Women have long been presumed to be the best caregivers, and it was once very difficult for men to seek custody of their children. In Texas, the laws have changed, and the court is now required to make decisions free from gender bias. Despite the progression in the last few decades, it can still be difficult for fathers to gain their full rights because they often are not the primary caregiver of their children. When it comes to child custody arrangements, fathers often have to fight to prove that they are willing to take care of their children.

An experienced family law attorney at Skillern Firm is the best person to speak to about your child custody case. Our approach to the attorney-client relationship is unparalleled, we will take the time to understand your individual case and will work tirelessly to protect your rights. So give us a call today at (936) 213-8479 to speak to an expert in child custody laws.

What Are Fathers’ Rights in Houston, TX?

Everyone is equal in the eyes of the law. However, statistically, women are more likely to be stay-at-home parents. Mothers on average spend more time with their children and are therefore more likely to make daily decisions on their behalf. This can make it difficult for fathers to attain child custody or even fair visitation rights. You may need to prove that your father-child relationship is strong and that you are responsible.

It is important that fathers maintain their rights to have regular contact with their children, and also keep the ability to make important decisions on things such as the child’s education and medical care. A father’s rights lawyer will understand how to protect your rights and will help you find an arrangement that works. Child custody orders are legally binding, so it is essential that you fight for your rights from the outset.

What Responsibilities Do Fathers Have?

In addition to parental rights, fathers also have a responsibility to contribute financially and emotionally to the upbringing of their children. If you are the high-earning spouse, then unless you are the primary conservator of the child, you will likely have to pay child support. The court prefers to keep both parents in the children’s lives, and there may be a minimum amount of time that you are expected to spend with your children under joint managing conservatorship, which is the child custody arrangement most parents follow. The only time that sole managing conservatorship is awarded is if one parent is a danger to the child’s wellbeing, such as in instances of domestic abuse or substance misuse.

Who is The Legal Father?

In Texas, it is especially difficult for an unmarried father to gain rights to their children, and you may need to prove that you are in fact the biological father. In accordance with the Texas Family Code, when a child is born, the mother’s husband is the presumed father, and their name is added to the birth certificate. If you were not married to the child’s mother, then you will need to fight to become the acknowledged father through other means.

If both the mother and father agree on who the father is, then they can have his name added to the birth certificate. However, if there is any disagreement you may have to file for adjudication with the court, or formally adopt the child. Unless your name is on the birth certificate, you will not usually have father’s rights and will therefore not be named in a child custody arrangement. A Houston father’s rights lawyer can help you navigate the laws surrounding your case, which will be especially important for unmarried fathers.

Different Child Custody Arrangements

In Texas, there are two primary types of child custody arrangements.

  • Sole Managing Conservatorship.

  • Joint Managing Conservatorship.

Sole Custody

Sole custody means that one parent has the right to make all important decisions in a child’s life. This is usually only awarded if the other parent has issues that negatively impact the child such as instances of domestic abuse or substance misuse. If you believe that you should have sole custody, or if the other parent is fighting for sole custody unfairly, then you should speak to a father’s rights lawyer as soon as possible. They will get straight to work defending and protecting your rights to your children.

Joint Custody

Joint managing conservatorship means parents share rights and responsibilities. Children usually fair better when both parents remain in their lives, and so this is the most common arrangement. It can take many forms, and one parent may still retain the right to decide primary residence, while the other may be given visitation rights. It is helpful to have an attorney who can help make sure that a joint custody arrangement splits time and responsibilities fairly.

How Are Child Custody Decisions Made in Texas?

The court is required to make decisions based on the child’s best interests. They will take many factors into consideration, including:

Parent Involvement

If you have been meaningfully involved in the child’s life, such as attending medical appointments, or other important events, then the court will want you to continue doing so. The court wants to minimize disruption to the child’s life as much as possible. If you have been unable to do so due to working long work hours, then this does not necessarily work against you, and your attorney can help make sure that this is taken into account.

Potential Danger to Child

If a parent is a potential danger to the child then this will be taken very seriously. It could result in restrictions such as supervised visitation. If you have a criminal history, or one involving substance misuse and you want to retain rights to your child you will need to prove that you have changed your ways.

The Emotional and Physical Needs of the Child

The court may consider the ability of each parent to meet a child’s emotional and physical needs now and in the future. It can be difficult to prove anything regarding this if there are disagreements in court. An experienced family law attorney will be able to assist you in gathering the correct evidence to make a persuasive argument.

The Child’s Preference

Once a child is over the age of 12, their preference may be taken into consideration, although it is not the deciding factor. The welfare of the child will usually be the most important thing for a court to consider. If compelling evidence can be produced to show that their preference is not in alignment with this, then a court may disregard the child’s wishes.

The proximity of Family and Community

The child’s bonds to other family members and parts of their community are important, and the court will aim to maintain their relationships. This is especially important if the family and community has been heavily involved in the child’s life up to now. Being able to show a history of importance can have a major impact on a court’s decision.

We are Experts in Mediation and Negotiation

Where possible, it is better to come to amicable agreements with minimum court involvement. This saves time and protects children from drawn-out court proceedings. At Skillern Firm, our Houston father’s rights attorneys are highly skilled in mediation and will help you and your ex-partner communicate without allowing emotions to take over. We will listen to everyone’s needs while ensuring your rights are protected. We always prioritize the needs of children, while fighting for our clients. We are equally skilled in litigation, so if your case does go to court, we will be prepared to stand by you.

Get Help Fighting for Your Rights

Get in touch with a skilled father’s rights attorney at Skillern Firm in Houston, TX. We handle cases like yours on a daily basis and our commitment to family law, mediation, and the needs of our clients means that we can handle even the most complex cases. Once a child custody arrangement is finalized it is very difficult to change, so you should act swiftly to protect your father’s rights and your relationship with your children.

Give us a call today at (936) 213-8479 to speak to an experienced Texas father’s rights lawyer.