Divorce or the break-up of a domestic relationship is, almost invariably, an emotionally difficult process. As a couple begins to understand that the future is going to hold something different than they had likely foreseen, each one may lash out in anger or frustration, creating more problems than there may have been previously. When children are in involved, this can be even worse, as parents may end up using the kids, even unintentionally, as pawns or wedges in an attempt to hurt the other former partner. When this happens, Texas fathers may end up with legal questions about how they are going to continue having a relationship with their children.
While the law does not give preference in child custody or other matters to a party based upon gender, there are those who believe that family courts favor women for child custody. Whether this is an intentional preference, or simply one based upon the conditioning of society that women are better nurturers, the perception that this occurs creates anxiety in many fathers going through a divorce. What steps, then, may a father take to help ease the worry that his request for custody will not be taken seriously?
First, one thing a court looks at when determining the best interests of a child in a custody matter is how involved a parent has been in a child’s life. And while fathers who have worked while someone else stayed home with the child may, at first, seem to be at a disadvantage, if he can show that the free time he does have is spent supporting and caring for the child, he may actually be in a better position, as he has shown his willingness to sacrifice for the child. Also, fathers need to be aware of the potential of parental alienation on the part of the ex-spouse. Especially with children old enough to express a preference in custody, the child’s attitude toward the parent may go a long way to helping a court make a decision. If such alienation is suspected, a father should look into legal avenues to stop it as soon as possible.
Being a parent is hard under the best of circumstances. Dealing with children while going through a divorce can seem completely crazy at times. However, it is important that Texas fathers remember that they have equal rights to custody and a relationship with their children, and that the law can help protect those fathers’ rights.