Not so long ago, mothers were more likely than fathers to win sole custody of their children in a custody battle in Texas. As time and culture have progressed, so has parenting and custody. Where it was once rare for both parents to work outside of the home—and more likely for mothers to stay home and raise the children—it’s now common for both mom and dad to work outside the home.
In addition, you also find more fathers taking on parenting responsibilities today than in previous generations, where parenting duties mostly fell to mom. Society now expects and accepts fathers taking a more active role when it comes to parenting, and many dads relish the time they spend with their kids.
While the enduring presumption that children of divorce would be better off in the custody of mom still exists to some degree, the winds of change are slowly blowing toward dads receiving more favorable custody arrangements.
According to an article published by The New York Times,, there are now “2.2 million divorced women in the United States who do not have primary physical custody of their children, and an estimated 50 percent of fathers who seek such custody in a disputed divorce are granted it.” This number shows that favor is no longer given to mothers alone, but to the parents who are most involved in their children’s lives.
If you want to know how to get full custody in Texas, here are six mistakes you need to avoid:
- Not helping with parenting duties. Being absent in parenting duties is one of the quickest ways to lose custody in Texas. In many households, one parent will take on significantly more responsibilities in regard to taking care of the kids. The parent who handles most of the duties involved in their child’s daily life is the parent more likely to win sole custody. In Texas, this is referred to as sole managing conservatorship.
Even if you want to secure 50/50 custody, shared legal custody or joint managing conservatorship (as it’s known in Texas), you need to walk the walk.
In shared child custody cases in Texas, the judge decides—unless parents previously came to an agreement—which rights and duties each parent will be assigned and responsible to fulfill moving forward. The judge typically assigns those responsibilities to the parent who primarily handled them in the past. These include decisions about education, medical care, where the child resides, religious affiliation and others. If you want to make decisions for your child in the future you need to be proactive about caring for your child today.
- You belittle the other parent or try to alienate the child from the other parent. In the state of Texas, it is believed that children benefit most when both parents play a role in their children’s lives. Family court judges have issues with parents who try to undermine their child’s other parent through actions or words.
In fact, bad-mouthing the other parent in front of the child or taking steps to negatively influence the child’s relationship with the other parent can backfire in a big way. Judges take parental alienation very seriously in Texas, and won’t hesitate to penalize parents who try to damage the standing of the other parent with their child. Those penalties may include loss of custody and visitation rights, so if you’re thinking about alienating your child from your ex—DON’T DO IT.
Learn more about parental alienation and how it affects child custody outcomes in Texas here.
- You behave like an “unfit” parent. Loving parents who want to get shared or sole custody must place a priority on their child’s physical and mental health and do their best to keep that child out of harm’s way. Parents who jeopardize a child’s safety by consuming drugs or alcohol, not providing a safe environment and proper nourishment for the child, or allowing untrustworthy individuals near their child could be deemed unfit. Being deemed unfit may have disastrous consequences, making your custody battle a nearly impossible situation.
Judges take allegations of child endangerment and substance abuse seriously and will investigate. If you struggle with any form of substance abuse or being able to properly care for your child, know that the fate of child custody hangs in the balance.
- You lose control of your temper easily. It is crucial to act with good judgment and self-control if you want to win sole custody or joint custody of your child. If you are a parent who consistently flies off the handle, you will be at a disadvantage in court. An angry outburst in a courtroom is an example of one of the easiest ways to lose custody in Texas.
If a judge sees you lose your temper or have no emotional control, he or she will likely presume you behave that way in front of your child. Since angry outbursts can be damaging to a child’s mental health, a judge could decide to restrict your access to and custody of your child. You may also be ordered to seek counseling to learn to manage your anger in order to regain child custody and visitation.
- You leave a paper trail that could negatively affect your case. With the technological advancements we have today, it’s very easy for a parent to provide evidence that potentially paints the other parent in a bad light. This could include a ranting text or email exchange you have with your sister about your ex or photos of you partying with friends on Facebook or Instagram.
If you’re trying to get custody of a child in Texas, you must do two things. First be on your best behavior at all times, including on social media. Second, cut technology ties with your ex so he or she doesn’t have access to your personal emails, texts, voicemails, photos, social media accounts, etc.
- You don’t follow your lawyer’s advice. Getting sole custody in Texas is a very challenging process and can be stressful. Child custody cases can involve many complicated details, so it’s critical to seek the assistance of an experienced family law attorney.
Once you hire a divorce lawyer you trust and who agrees with your interests and goals, listen carefully to their guidance as they know the many ways to lose custody in Texas and how to avoid them. Experienced family lawyers understand the state and local laws, while you do not. They also know what steps you need to take to optimize the outcome of your case and what actions you should avoid.
If you find yourself at odds with your divorce attorney, you may want to consider parting ways.
Have questions about how to win child custody in Texas?
If you live in Tarrant County and want to speak with a Fort Worth divorce attorney about your case, contact us. To schedule a confidential case review with our founder, Fort Worth family lawyer Justin Sisemore, call our office at (817) 336-4444 or connect with us online.