Many people believe that no matter what the circumstances, it’s always the mother who receives full custody of children in a divorce. That may be true in some cases, but as we’ve mentioned in previous blogs, the court’s main concern is the best interest of the child. In most cases, the court prefers that the child maintain strong relationships with both parents, not just live with one parent and occasional contact with the other.
Despite this popular belief, it is possible for a father can get full conservatorship (custody) of his children after a Texas divorce without proving that the children have an “unfit mother.”
The Evolution Of Fathers
Men have been conditioned to believe that it’s always best for the children to be with their mother, but that perception is changing. Children need both of their parents, and more than just a weekend. The State of Kentucky passed the nation’s first equal parenting law in the US in 2018, and other states have begun to follow suit.
Because the father’s rights movement is becoming more prevalent, courts in Texas have begun to realize the importance of a father in the lives of their children, and understand that fathers can also care for their children equally. Children who have the benefit of their father’s involvement do better in school, have less behavioral problems and socialize better.
The shift to dual parenting shows that fathers are ready and willing to take a more hands-on approach that include additional parenting duties. More flexible work schedules including employees who work virtually (from home) means that fathers can get more involved in their children’s lives and work to build the relationship, spending more time with them than in previous years.
It is also important to be an involved father from the first day and being involved in their lives on a daily basis. From school and extracurricular activities to doctors’ appointments and other activities, fathers who are involved can build strong relationships with their children.
Full Custody As A Father
While 50-50 joint custody is a strong trend, fathers getting full custody can be another matter. But it isn’t unheard of for a father in Texas to be awarded full custody of his child or children.
Of course, if the child’s mother has abandoned him or her, getting custody would be simple. But barring that scenario, there are steps you can take to increase your chances of being awarded full custody:
- Speak to an attorney who has experience with custody issues in divorce. Getting advice from anyone else but an expert means you’ll likely be told something wrong. Don’t risk bad or incorrect advice—speak with an attorney before you do anything else.
- Respond to any legal actions. This is another reason to speak with an attorney who can advise you on what to do before, during and after the divorce action to increase your chances of gaining full custody.
- Continue taking care of your parental duties despite any conflict or tensions. It’s important to continue with parental responsibilities, whether it’s helping with homework, carpooling, etc., even in light of an upcoming divorce.
- Do not sign a settlement agreement that you don’t agree with. This is where an experienced family law attorney can guide you.
- Don’t leave the marital home without the children. Until a judge orders one party out of the home, avoid moving unless there are concerns for the safety of the children.
Prepare For Court
One of the best ways to help your case is to understand how the family court system works. By having an understanding of family law and its accompanying court system you will have a better chance of gaining custody.
It’s up to the father to show that he is willing, able, and capable of taking care of his children. That includes gathering all W-2s, tax verification and other financial information to show that he has the financial ability to provide for them.
Other preparations include:
- Create a parenting plan that includes transportation, medical appointments, child and after-school care, and other aspects that show which parent can provide the most stable home for the children, including a moral upbringing.
- Any evidence, such as pictures, videos, social media postings, etc., that would help your case.
- Consider a home study for both homes that the children will be in after the divorce
- Create a timeline of events that show the activities in the months leading up the divorce, including the children’s schedule, activities with the children, time spent with them, and how they were treated.
- Is it necessary to have
- Schedule a psychological evaluation of the mother?
- Drug testing of the mother?
Your attorney will also have options for you to increase your chances of full custody.
Fathers Can Have Full Custody
Custody does not necessarily mean the mother. Fathers can also be awarded full custody after a divorce in Fort Worth with the right preparation.
Wendy L. Hart is an experienced family law attorney helping people throughout Tarrant County who need help with conservatorship issues. Wendy is a divorcee herself who understands the process and will work to protect your rights and your children’s interests.