In the mid-1990s, the concept of 'father's rights' was in its infancy. This issue has since become much more widespread, but the details are still largely misunderstood. Contrary to popular belief, Texas family law gives no preference to either the mother or father in custody, possession, or child support cases. Although Texas law aims to ensure that father's rights are protected, the reality is that the vast majority of cases still end with the father losing custody, paying child support, and seeing his children less often.
There Are Several Reasons for This Seeming Contradiction:
- In most families, the mother is the primary caretaker. Courts like to keep the status quo in place, so if they need to decide which parent will be primarily responsible for the children, they often select the mom.
- Most fathers who could win custody don't push their case in court because they don't want to spend the money, or they lack the necessary confidence to win.
- Some fathers who could win custody fail to hire an attorney with experience advocating for the rights of fathers. These are your children. Just as you would not choose any brain surgeon to perform surgery on you, so don't hire just any attorney.
- Courts and juries often believe that the mother is a primary caregiver, even if they are not. This tendency is stronger in relatively conservative areas and is more common on a Jury than in front of a Judge.
Fathers Seeking Primary Custody Should:
- Immediately hire an experienced family law attorney;
- Seek primary custody from the start;
- Try to keep your case in front of a judge, rather than a jury; and
- Make sure that your case is as strong as possible, but don't get overconfident.
The most common scenarios in which fathers have primary custody are when the dad is the primary caretaker at home (or at least 50/50), the mother has a problem (such as substance abuse, family violence, mental disorder, etc.), or he simply wants it more. The lawyer you choose, the tactics you use, and how involved you are in your children's lives all indicate to the court how much this case matters to you.