A growing movement in Texas and the rest of the United States is the movement for fathers' rights. The participants in this movement argue that family law courts should follow a standard of granting fifty-fifty parenting time in custody decisions whenever possible. These fathers--and some mothers--have become increasingly vocal in their advocacy for equal parenting time. The movement came close to scoring a major victory for equal parenting rights this year with a recent piece of legislation.
In February of this year, the Texas House of Representatives considered a piece of legislation known as House Bill 453. The bill, also known as HB453, would have introduced a more stringent standard for family courts to meet when reaching a custody decision. The state's family courts currently use the "best interests of the child" as the standard for custody orders. HB453 would have required this standard to be met as well as the presumption of fifty-fifty parenting time for both spouses unless it was not in the best interests of the child. It also would have mandated that when a court grant parents joint managing conservatorship over a child, it must also order equal parenting time, unless it is against the child's best interests, thus making Texas join an ever increasing number of other states adopting similar laws as this trend continues to sweep the nation.
The bill ultimately did not make it past the House floor, but it was hardly a defeat for the fathers' rights movement. If anything, the introduction of HB453 is emblematic of the movement's growing momentum and influence. For example, several men from the Texas Fathers' Rights Movement recently gathered in Austin to request more information about the state's custody laws. With more and more fathers requesting equal access to their children, the movement is gaining traction and will likely continue to grow.
Non-custodial parents of both genders may wish to monitor this national trend, and may choose to consult with an experienced Board-Certified Family Law expert attorney on the availability of all legal options open to them under current law.