At the Law Office of Lisa Vance, we work with a lot of fathers who are concerned about fathers’ rights–they want to make sure they can see their children, they want to make sure they can have a sufficient level of parenting time as they negotiate custody issues, and they want to make sure that their children are safe in both homes.
These rights are all based in one fundamental idea that’s extremely important to consider no matter what the situation: That focusing on the best interests of the children is of the utmost importance. It should, in fact, be the number one priority for both parents in a divorce, custody, or modification case. For fathers, it’s especially important, because of how society views the bond between a mother and child.
Most judges these days, including most judges in Bexar County, feel that if both parents show themselves to be caring, loving parents, it’s in the best interest of a child to have both parents involved in that child’s life.
Of course, it’s advantageous for parents to determine custody issues through negotiation rather than litigation, where a judge is the ultimate arbiter of custody, especially if they want to do something more creative than the standard orders that judges often fall back on.
But taking a case to court doesn’t necessarily mean that a judge will give a mother sole custody if there’s no compelling reason (like a history of abuse) to do so. It does, however, leave the custody decision in the hands of someone other than the parents, who can’t know that child’s needs as intimately as the parents do.
It is important, however, for fathers entering divorce to factor in the age of the child and the needs of the child. Unfortunately, some parents initiate divorce proceedings when their children are under age three.
The Texas Family Code, while it doesn’t provide specific parenting time guidelines for parents of children under three, there’s a section of the Code (153.254) that instructs the court to factor in caregiving, the effect on the child to be separated from either parent, the child’s need for continuity of routine, and a number of other factors involved with the child’s well-being.
To cite an obvious example of how this might factor in, very young children who are still breastfeeding have differing needs. If parents can be flexible, work together, and craft a plan that puts the child first, that’s the ideal scenario.
But in some cases, parents can’t come to agreement, and the judge has to exercise discretion. The judge will most likely look to the needs of the children over the wants of the parents, should it come to a decision between those two.
If you’re a father looking to navigate a case and protect your rights, we’re here for you. At an initial consultation, we can talk about your situation and how to best proceed to protect your interests and, most importantly, to protect your children.