Texas laws may soon change to make joint custody easier for parents to obtain.
On April 15, 2015, Texas fathers gathered at the State Capital to show their support for an equal parenting bill. State Representative Gilbert Pena proposed the bill, which would allow courts to give parents equal, 50-50 physical custody, unless it is determined to not be in the best interests of the children.
Whether laws change with this bill or not, it is vital for both mothers and fathers to understand and protect their legal rights to physical custody. The first step in doing so is to have an understanding of current custody laws.
Understanding state laws regarding shared custody
In Texas, child custody is referred to as “conservatorship.” In most cases, parents have the option of agreeing upon conservatorship matters and submitting this proposed parenting plan to the court. If parents cannot agree, or do not submit a parenting plan, the court will decide on an arrangement for them.
Although it is common to award joint conservatorship to both parents, where custody and legal responsibility is shared, this does not necessarily mean custody arrangements will be equal. According to current laws, it means that parents both have custody, but the actual physical arrangements are determined according to the children’s best interests. What those best interests entail can become a hotly-debated issue in the courts.
Support growing for “The 50/50 Custody Bill”
Rustin Wright, father to a ten-year-old boy, has spent his son’s entire life fighting for equal custody. He was among the fathers who gathered in support of the new custody bill on April 15.
“Last month, I only got to see my son for 48 hours,” Wright told CBS. “I miss out on being his father and teaching him the things that a father teaches his son.”
He supports the new custody bill because it is in the best interests of his son and other children to spend equal amounts of time with both parents. The proposed bill, dubbed the 50/50 custody bill, is currently making its way through state legislature.
Protect your rights as a parent
Regardless of the outcome of pending custody legislation, it is important for fathers and mothers to safeguard their custody and visitation rights. You can do so more effectively with experienced legal representation.
To protect your fathers’ or mothers’ rights, whether during a divorce or paternity action, contact an experienced family law attorney today. They can help you to fight for joint conservatorship and a parenting plan that suits the needs of your unique family.