As long as there are divorces, there will be disputes over child custody, and as long as there are disputes over child custody, there will be parents who feel that they are not being given fair treatment. In recent years, this belief has manifested particularly in the fathers’ rights movement, which seeks to overcome a perceived gender bias against men in child custody cases. This belief is not entirely without merit, as many statistics indicate that women have perennially been granted sole custody more often than men, but modern court systems have a much better record of equality.
Much of the confusion regarding child custody stems from a lack of understanding about how child custody is established and treated. In Texas, custody is referred to as conservatorship, and there are two types: joint managing conservatorship and sole managing conservatorship. When parents are designated as joint managing conservators, the judge will assign responsibilities to each parent based on what is best for the child. It’s important to remember that just because parents are joint managing conservators does not mean that the parents have equal possession.
Sole managing conservatorship refers to instances in which one parent is given the right to make decisions such as the child’s primary residence, consent to medical treatment, and decisions concerning the child’s education. Usually, sole managing conservatorship is awarded if the other parent has a history of violence, neglect, drugs or absence. It is never awarded based on gender.
If you feel that you have been unfairly treated in a child custody agreement, or if you are going through a divorce and fear that you may be treated unfairly, consider meeting with an attorney who is familiar with Texas child custody. It is important to prove that you are a vital part of your child’s life, and that you will contribute positively to your child’s upbringing. That is what the courts care about, not gender.