Over the last year, more than 20 states including Texas have considered bills that would presume equal parenting in child custody cases. The proposed measures are an attempt to level the playing field between mothers and fathers and to reflect research that shows children benefit when their parents co-parent.
Currently, fathers can be at a stark disadvantage when it comes to child custody. Oftentimes, capable and eager fathers wind up with weekend visitation while mothers are named as primary caregiver. However, that could change if more states adopt equal parenting legislation.
How would the changes affect custody cases?
Of course, there is no way to predict with certainty how the family legal landscape might change if more states adopt the proposed equal parenting measures.
However, this Washington Post article makes some interesting suggestions. For instance, if more parents start on equal ground, fathers can spend less time and resources to advocate for themselves in court.
It is also possible that parents will be more inclined to work out custody agreements themselves outside of court, leading to less contentious and costly legal battles.
Further, if more parents are playing an equal role in parenting, there may not be as much of a need for child support.
What if I’m going through a custody battle now?
Unless and until these measures are adopted throughout the U.S., custody will remain in the hands of a judge if parents cannot come to an agreement on their own outside of court.
It is important to understand that judges have wide discretion when it comes to assigning custody. Texas laws assure that if parents can act in the best interests of the child, they will have frequent and continuing contact with the child. However, that is not the same as a presumption for shared parenting.
As such, it is vital that you have legal support if you are facing child custody issues as a mother or father. Whether you resolve the issues through mediation or a judge makes a ruling in the courtroom, the outcome will affect and shape your family forever.