When you're in the throes of a child custody dispute, the idea of losing unfettered access to your children can be frightening. However, as the parent of your child, you have certain parental rights you can rely on. These rights will usually protect your ability to spend time with and care for your children as a parent.
Nevertheless, every child custody case is different, so it's important to familiarize yourself with the various factors that affect court decisions in family law proceedings:
1. Who is the primary caretaker?
A common misconception persists about child custody proceedings. It's the idea that family law courts defer preference to the mother of the children, and almost automatically award child custody to the mother. While it's true that national statistics point to the trend of mothers more readily receiving sole custody of their children, the reason behind this trend may be different than you imagine. It's because mothers often serve as the primary caretakers of their kids, and courts will always give preference to the primary caretakers during a child custody dispute.
Fathers who want to have equal rights during a child custody dispute should point out how they have played a vital role in taking care of their kids. The more fathers are involved in serving the day-to-day needs of their children from birth, the stronger position they'll have if their parental rights are ever challenged.
2. Are both parents fit to serve as independent caretakers of their children?
The fitness of a parent to serve as a caretaker of his or her child could be negatively affected by a parent's substance abuse problems, history of sexual or domestic violence, previous criminal convictions, lack of capacity to provide financial support and more. If one parent is unfit in this regard, the court may prefer to award child custody to the other parent.
Which factors will determine your ability to defend your parental rights?
There are many other factors that courts will consider under Texas state law when making a child custody decision. Make sure you understand where you stand in terms of your child custody rights and stand up for them in court when necessary.