In Texas, the law expresses a preference for parents to share responsibilities as much as possible. Therefore, Texas Courts favor granting both parents equal access to the child, absent of any parental misconduct (domestic violence, abuse, or neglect).
Your Parental Rights & Responsibilities
Presumably, before divorce, both parents are synced when making decisions for their child’s welfare, like where they live. Divorce will alter this landscape; you and your ex-partner must still be on the same team: your child’s team.
Texas Courts want to give both parents the avenues to continue active involvement in raising their child. So much so that the Courts typically give parents every opportunity to work out this new parenting style between themselves. When parents fail to do so amicably, that is when a Judge will intervene.
How are Parental Rights Determined?
The Courts would prefer parents come to a mutual agreement that is in the best interest of their child regarding their parental responsibilities. However, if Texas Courts weigh in on the matter, they might request a court-sponsored parental course be completed by both parents. In this course, parents will review the impact of divorce on children and the tools to help them cope.
The Court is guided by one overarching principle: act in the child’s best interest. In some circumstances, the Court will even appoint a “guardian ad litem” (a guardian exclusively for court proceedings) to represent the child to safeguard their guiding principle.
When deliberating parental rights and responsibilities, a judge will consider a myriad of factors. Including:
- the child’s safety and the safety of eight parents from physical abuse from the parent
- the parents’ fitness and stability of the home environment
- the child’s relationship with the parents and siblings, if any
- the child’s preference, if/when the child is of age & capacity to make an informed decision
- the geographical proximity of the parents’ homes
- the parent’s ability to communicate, cooperate and agree in matters regarding their child
- the child’s needs, including continuity and quality of education
- the parents’ employment responsibilities
- the quality and extent of time each parent devotes to their child before or after separation
In Texas, it is illegal to consider the gender of the parent as a factor to determine parental rights, brought into law through the Equal Rights Amendment in 1973. Furthermore, the Texas Family Code was updated in 1987 to include a paragraph stating that Texas has an interest in ensuring frequent and ongoing contact with both parents, as long as it is in the child’s best interest.
However, statics show that mothers are most often awarded custody, particularly amongst younger children. Realistically, if you are a father seeking primary custody, you need to establish one thing above all else. That you can provide the best environment for the developmental growth of your child. A Texas divorce lawyer can make that argument on your behalf.
Monetary Parental Responsibilities
By law, both parents are charged to provide financial support for their children. Child support is much more subjective than just addressing parenting time and custody. Our Texas divorce lawyer will be able to advocate for fair child support payments, both for your child and yourself.
Your Child’s Best Interest Is All That Matters
This wording, “in the best interest of the child”, is intentionally open-ended and vague to allow judges to use their intuition and experience with the law to decide what circumstances will provide your child the environment to grow and thrive. Therefore, a judge is not going to be burdened with what you want versus what is in your child’s best interest.
The judge will heavily consider the following factors when determining parental rights. Your child’s:
- physical well-being
- mental health
- minimization of conflict
- stability of their home environment
Know Your Parental Rights
Unless a judge has ordered otherwise, Texas parents generally have the following parental rights:
- Inclusion in decisions regarding education, well-being, and the health of your child
- Open communication with your child’s school, such as receiving report cards and PTA invitations
- Open communication with your child’s doctors, such as test results or diagnosis
- Attendance at your child’s social functions, such as extracurricular activities and school pursuits
- Ability to consent to emergency, life-saving dental or medical procedures for your child
It’s important to remember, your ex-partner also has these same rights. You have a duty to inform them of any necessary information regarding their child’s health, education, or general welfare, just as they have the same duty to you.
Custodial Parent’s Superior Rights
If one parent has primary custody of the child, they also have a couple of superior rights. They are as follows:
- First, these parents solely have the right to determine the child’s primary residence.
- Second, they have the exclusive right to child support payments.
However, should you and your ex-partner share joint custody, you will hold these rights equally. Usually, parents become adversarial when considering the primary residence of their child. We want to encourage you and your ex-partner to do so as thoughtfully as possible. Remember, your child is in a delicate position. Do everything you can to calm any fear or anxiety that they are being moved away from the other parent.
We have the Texas divorce lawyer to represent and advocate for your parental rights for the benefit of both you and your child. At AZ Law Firm, we handle Family Law with care. Just like the Courts, we are committed to helping the future generations of Texans succeed. Give us a call or send us a message today to schedule your free initial consultation.
To find out how we can help you, contact a Texas Divorce Lawyer at 512-400-7070 or send us a message. We will schedule an initial client consultation to review your case details and lay out a game plan for your divorce in Texas. AZ Law Firm will pursue the legal action necessary to secure the fairest possible divorce for you and your loved ones.
- evaluating and explaining to you the pros and cons of your individual case
- discussing with you any available options and our proposed strategies as it relates to your case
- providing guidance and recommendations regarding any proposed settlement offer
- quickly and effectively communicating with you during each step of the process so that you are not left in the dark
- taking your case solely on a contingent fee basis
- and aggressively protecting and defending your rights
We understand times are tough and that there probably hasn’t been a tougher time in your life. Although we could get away with charging exuberant amounts, we prefer not to as we are a law firm by the people, for the people. We do not want you to worry about whether you can afford to hire an attorney to protect and defend your rights. Call us and be surprised at the quality you receive compared to what other law firms will quote you!
Accordingly, the attorneys at AZ Law Firm will always provide you with a free initial consultation. During this initial consultation, one of our divorce lawyer Austin team will evaluate your case, inform you of any legal options that may be available, and allow you to ask any questions that you may have. AZ Law Firm offers affordable rates for all our clients and will work with you on payment plans. Our firm accepts checks, debit cards, and most major credit cards to cover the costs of your legal representation.