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Can fathers decide for their children despite not living with them?

On Behalf of | Sep 19, 2023 | Fathers' Rights |

A myth about conservatorship in Texas, often called custody in other states, is that the nonresidential parent, usually the father, has no say in their child’s major life decisions. In truth, the father and mother most often have equal rights to have input in their child’s education, health care, religion and similar decisions, regardless of whether the child lives with the other parent.

Mothers and fathers are equals in the eyes of the law

The father’s right to make decisions for his child stems from a presumption of law. Texas custody laws hold the presumption that it is in the child’s best interests to have both parents as joint managing conservators, with equal rights and responsibility to make important decisions regarding their child’s life. However, note that this does not mean each parent receives equal parenting time with the child.

Does the right include deciding where the child lives?

No, the decision-making right does not automatically include decisions on the child’s primary residence. Instead, the court orders that one parent, usually the custodial parent, will exclusively decide where the child will reside. In some cases, neither parent gets the exclusive right to decide where the child lives. They can agree on a primary residence within a certain geographic area, which allows the noncustodial parent to visit their child easily.

A rebuttable presumption

While the law presumes that joint conservatorship is best for the child, this presumption is rebuttable by evidence of a history or pattern of domestic violence by one parent toward the other. This means that a parent with a history of violence or abuse will not be allowed to make decisions for their child.

Yes, every parent has a right to be involved in their child’s life. However, the child’s best interests will always be the top priority. Whether a parent can make certain decisions relating to their child depends on whether the court finds it healthy for the child’s well-being.