Navigating the legal landscape of father’s rights can be complex. Misconceptions abound about parental rights for dads.
Getting the truth behind these common myths allows you to embrace your responsibilities as a Texas father.
Myth: Mothers always get custody
In fact, state courts determine custody based on the child’s best interests. Both parents have an opportunity to present their case in court. Factors in the best interest determination include each parent’s stability and relationship with the child. The judge does not consider gender when deciding child custody.
Myth: Fathers have no say in child support
The court considers the financial situation of both parents to set a fair child support order. Texas has specific guidelines to ensure that each parent takes responsibility for meeting the child’s financial needs.
Fathers should prepare for court with a full, accurate accounting of income and expenses. Detail how much you currently spend for your child’s food, clothing, activities, medical care and education.
Myth: Unmarried fathers have no rights
As an unmarried father in Texas, you have the right to participate in your child’s life. To do so, you must establish legal paternity with the court. After taking that step, you can pursue visitation and take part in important decisions for your child.
Myth: Mothers make the decisions
Fathers can seek joint managing conservatorship to share parental decision-making. With this arrangement, parents must agree on important matters for their children. Examples include education, religion and medical care.
Courts often favor shared decision-making when parents can effectively collaborate. The notion that mothers have the final say is a misconception.
Myth: Fathers only provide monetary support
Fathers have equal responsibility for emotional support. Both parents should contribute to their child’s psychological well-being. Striving for a strong parent-child relationship can give them a strong foundation for the future.
Myth: Fathers cannot change custody
When circumstances change, either parent can request custody modification. Changed circumstances can include a new job, a relocation or a shift in either parent’s health. As with the original custody order, the court will decide on an arrangement that serves the child’s best interests.
The Institute for Family Studies reports that only 8% of fathers have primary custody of their children, compared to 25% of mothers. If you want to preserve your relationship with your children, Texas provides a way to assert your parental rights by establishing legal paternity.