Child custody is often the most emotionally charged and contentious part of a divorce. Even in an amicable split, child custody can be difficult for the parents to agree upon. Many fathers in Texas feel that fathers’ rights are limited when it comes to equal child custody during a divorce, something they say would be corrected by the passage of a bill before the state legislature.
Texas House Bill 453, if passed, would give fathers equal custody of their children with their mothers during a divorce. Presently, if a custody agreement has been reached by the divorcing couple prior to arriving at family court, a judge only has to approve it. But it’s when an agreement isn’t in place that proponents of the bill feel that fathers are treated unfairly. They claim that more often than not, judges grant custody to the mother and visitation to the father. Passage of the bill would legally grant equal custody to the father right from the start of divorce proceedings.
Opponents of the bill dispute the perception that mothers are favored by the courts in child custody matters. They also express concerns over child custody being legislated and discretionary decisions by judges being eliminated. Also questioned are the details of equal custody, such as how it is to be scheduled and whether a judge should be making those decisions.
A similar bill was introduced in the 2015 legislative session, but it failed to pass. Supporters plan to rally in support of the new bill in March. While it remains to be seen if the bill will become law, fathers’ rights for child custody are likely to continue to be best defended and fought for by an attorney who keeps the best interest of the child and the father in mind during the divorce of the parents.
Source: wfaa.com, “Texas fathers fight for equal custody law at legislature”, Jason Whitely, Feb. 9, 2017