"Is there any legal reason why fathers should not be awarded custody of their children just as often as mothers? How can I (a father) increase my chances of being awarded the primary custody of my children?"
The Texas Family Code specifically provides that sex cannot be considered when evaluating the qualifications of a person to be appointed a conservator of a child. The Texas Supreme Court, in considering this issue, in the context of a child born outside of marriage, has stated, "A father who steps forward, willing and able to shoulder the responsibilities of raising a child, should not be required to meet a higher burden of proof solely because he is a male." There is simply no reason under the law for a mother to have a greater chance of being awarded primary custody of a child simply because she is female.
You can increase your chances of getting primary possession by hiring an attorney with that goal in mind. If you are a father, and you feel strongly that you should have primary possession of your children, you must be prepared from the very beginning of the case to take it all the way to the judge or jury, and you should hire an attorney who is capable of doing just that.
Either parent is more likely to obtain primary conservator if he or she has always been involved in the child's day-to-day needs, such as bathing, doctors' visits, meals, sports, school events, etc. Being involved in your child's life well before you are ever involved in the court system is what will give you the greatest chance of success in custody litigation.
Melinda Eitzen practices family law as a partner with McClure Duffee & Eitzen in Dallas, Plano, and surrounding counties.
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